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