the father of a mentally-ill man says his son is now too scared to leave his home after a nasty attack at a bus station.
The 62-year-old dad says it breaks his heart to see his son so frightened and stripped of his confidence.
Until the attack, the 30-year-old, who suffers from severe learning difficulties and psychosis, often went out to meet friends for a drink.
But now his dad says his son, whom the Gazette has agreed not to name, prefers to stay indoors.
The attack was carried out at Keppel Street bus station in South Shields just after midnight on Tuesday. The victim’s ear was bitten, and he was left with bruising and swelling to his face.
Natasha Dambers, 25, of Richardson Avenue, South Shields, and a 17-year-old girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to the assault at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court this week and were released on bail awaiting sentence.
The victim’s dad, of Jarrow, said: “My son has severe learning difficulties and has the mental age of a six or seven-year-old, but he still does things for himself.
“He often goes out with a drink with his friends – it’s something he loved to do – but now he won’t go out at all.
“What has happened to him is continuously playing on his mind.
“It’s just heartbreaking to see. He has gone really quiet in himself. He just doesn’t seem to be the same person.
“His psychosis means he talks really loudly to himself. When you ask him if he’s ok, he’ll tell you he’s fine, but you can hear him talking to himself and telling himself how frightened he is.
“As his dad, it’s really difficult as there is nothing I can do to help him. I’ve tried to talk to him to try to encourage him to go out, but he just won’t.
“I’m really angry about what has happened. I just don’t think people, when they do this kind of thing, realise the full impact they have on people’s lives.
“Right now, his confidence has been destroyed, and we don’t know when he will ever be able to feel confident to go out on his own again.
“Physical scars heal, but, mentally, they have taken away his independence.”
Dambers pleaded guilty to common assault and will be back at the South Shields court for sentencing on Wednesday, February 5.
Her 17-year-old co-defendant will be sentenced at the court on Wednesday, January 29, after admitting the same offence.
Sarah Guest, prosecuting, said: “The victim has learning difficulties. He is 30 and described as vulnerable.
“In the early hours of January 14, he was at the bus station, waiting to catch the bus from South Shields to Jarrow.”
The court heard that the two females had been arguing with each other, and the victim intervened, leading to Dambers attacking the man.
Closed-circuit TV footage captured the man being punched and bitten on the ear by Dambers and being hit by the 17-year-old.
Paul Kennedy, defending the youth, said she had no idea the man suffered from learning difficulties and immediately apologised to him for her actions.
Mr Kennedy said: “She had walked away, but said something was said to her by the victim, and she lost her temper and has gone over and hit him in the face.
“She has then gone over to him and admitted what she did to him was wrong and embraced him.”
Both Dambers and the youth were granted conditional bail until their sentencing hearings.