Beaten over a cuppa

A stranger at­tacked me as I sat down for a cuppa – and I was sick­ened to learn why

Chat - - Contents - Belinda Price, 53, Wel­wyn Gar­den City

Pop­ping his head out of my hand­bag, lit­tle Cookie looked at the chang­ing scenery.

‘We’re al­most there,’ I said sooth­ingly.

It was a sunny, lazy bank hol­i­day Sun­day last Au­gust.

Me and Cookie, my new Chi­wee­nie puppy – a cross be­tween a Chi­huahua and a dachs­hund – were driv­ing to see Pa­trick, an old fam­ily friend.

He lived a few streets away with his part­ner and son, and I was look­ing for­ward to catch­ing up.

‘Come in!’ Pa­trick beamed as we ar­rived.

We wan­dered into the kitchen but, just as we sat down for a cuppa, there was a knock on the door.

Rolling his eyes, Pa­trick traipsed off to see who it was.

Alone in the kitchen, I fussed over Cookie, who was still in my bag, over my shoul­der.

In the blink of an eye, a young man flew through the kitchen. What the.?!

A stranger had burst into the house.

Be­fore I could re­act, I saw a flash of metal shoot through the air.

Then some­thing heavy smashed into my face. Hard.

Shock numbed any pain. But I heard a sick­en­ing crunch as the bones in my face shat­tered.

Some­how, I stopped my­self fall­ing over.

I’d no idea who this man was, why he’d at­tacked.

And, what­ever it was he’d hit me with, it was vi­cious.

Adren­a­line kicked in. It was fight or flight...

So, gath­er­ing all my strength, I flung my­self out of the kitchen door and ran through the back gar­den un­til I found a hole in the fence.

Cram­ming my­self into the tiny gap, I lay low be­hind a bush, ter­ri­fied.

Cookie was still in the bag slung over my shoul­der. Thank God! I thought. I couldn’t bear the thought of any­one hurt­ing him.

‘Don’t worry, dar­ling, I’ll keep you safe,’ I said, stroking his fright­ened face with shak­ing hands. I wor­ried for Pa­trick, too. What was my at­tacker do­ing to him?

I didn’t have a phone to call the po­lice. And for about 20 min­utes, I didn’t dare move.

But then I heard Pa­trick’s son scream out – he’d found his dad un­con­scious.

Re­al­is­ing the men had gone, I stag­gered back in­side.

Pa­trick’s poor son was in shock – lean­ing over his dad, who’d been knocked out cold. What was all that about? I thought, con­fused. Who were those hor­ri­ble men? It’d all hap­pened so fast. Soon, the house was in to­tal chaos, with paramedics and po­lice swarm­ing ev­ery­where. I gave a state­ment to the po­lice of­fi­cers. But then... ‘Have you seen your face?’ some­one gasped. I shook my head. But I could feel a throb­bing on the side of my face. ‘You do know he was us­ing a knuck­le­duster..?’ she added. But aren’t knuckle-dusters il­le­gal? I thought. The woman gave me her phone so I could use the cam­era to look at my face. I felt sick with hor­ror. I was taken to Lis­ter Hos­pi­tal, and Cookie stayed with my son. But, as I waited to be seen, I col­lapsed. I be­gan vom­it­ing dark-red blood and was rushed for a CT scan, then trans­ferred to Lu­ton and Dun­sta­ble

It all hap­pened so fast. It was fight or flight…

Hos­pi­tal for surgery.

‘The bones in your face are shat­tered,’ a doc­tor said.

My left cheek was frac­tured in three places, I had a bro­ken nose and left eye socket.

Dur­ing a five-hour op, sur­geons put four metal plates in my face to hold it to­gether. I came round in agony. Leav­ing the hos­pi­tal 24 hours later, I was in shock.

My face looked aw­ful – like I’d been thrown through a car wind­screen.

The kids didn’t even recog­nise me.

Tak­ing Cookie out for a walk, I hid my face with a base­ball cap.

Pa­trick had a re­ally bad cut to his mouth and also needed hos­pi­tal treat­ment.

Luck­ily, his son and girl­friend had only suf­fered mi­nor in­juries.

The po­lice told me that two men had been ar­rested, but it hardly made me feel bet­ter.

My re­cov­ery was slow – I was in agony. But the emo­tional trauma was even worse.

I could barely sleep or eat. I be­came a recluse, too – afraid to leave the house.

‘I’m a pris­oner in my own home,’ I sobbed to my daugh­ter.

Thank good­ness I had lit­tle Cookie to keep me com­pany.

This March, the two at­tack­ers – Char­lie Tem­ple, 25, and Nicky Sandwell, 26 – ap­peared at St Al­ban’s Crown Court.

The court heard how Tem­ple and Sandwell had both been drink­ing heav­ily.

Turns out Tem­ple had fallen out with Pa­trick’s son a few weeks ear­lier. The pair had shown up, out the blue, and asked Pa­trick for tis­sues for a cut on Tem­ple’s right arm. Pa­trick obliged. But, mo­ments later, Pa­trick was grabbed in a head­lock, punched in the face and kneed in the head.

Af­ter a flurry of kicks and punches, Pa­trick had fallen to the floor un­con­scious.

The pair then ran through the house.

While Sandwell raced in to the kitchen, and at­tacked me with his brass knuck­le­duster, Tem­ple went up­stairs.

He smashed down the bath­room door, where Pa­trick’s son and girl­friend were hid­ing.

He punched him in the face, and shoved his girl­friend in the bath.

Then Tem­ple swiped a £20 note from Pa­trick’s bed­room, and the pair fled.


All this over £20 and a bit of petty re­venge?

Tem­ple pleaded guilty to griev­ous bod­ily harm, bur­glary and two counts of com­mon as­sault.

Sandwell ad­mit­ted wound­ing Pa­trick with in­tent and also to in­flict­ing griev­ous bod­ily harm on me. I was re­lieved they’d pleaded guilty.

Time to see jus­tice served now, I thought.

But then Tem­ple, who’d been out on li­cence, was jailed for 27 months. And Sandwell? A measly 18 months. ‘I can’t be­lieve it!’ I sobbed. He’d beaten me – an in­no­cent stranger – to a pulp with a knuckle-duster.

A vi­cious, il­le­gal weapon de­signed purely to in­flict max­i­mum dam­age.

He’d left me with life­long fa­cial in­juries, trau­ma­tised.

I’ve lost all feel­ing in the left side of my face, and have per­ma­nent dou­ble vi­sion.

Yet Sandwell will prob­a­bly spend just nine months banged up for it.

I’m more of a pris­oner than he is.

I haven’t been able to re­turn to my job as a make-up artist.

And I’m scared to leave the house, con­stantly look­ing over my shoul­der.

I feel like the sys­tem has let me down.

It’s just not right.

I looked like I’d been thrown through a wind­screen

Sandwell and Tem­ple Vi­cious pair

My face, smashed

Thank good­ness I have lit­tle Cookie

An il­le­gal, vi­cious weaponé

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