A THUG who took part in a savage assault that left a disabled South Tyneside man with boot prints on his face has been jailed.
Cerebral palsy sufferer Andrew Thornton, 25, was pounced on from behind by three attackers and punched and kicked as he played with his dog on parkland in Hebburn.
His loyal dog Darcy stayed by his side during the horrific violence.
Mr Thornton, who was described by his mother as “the most loving and mild natured young man you could ever hope to meet”, was left scared to go out alone after the attack.
After the incident, Mr Thornton’s dad Michael released a picture of his son’s injuries on Facebook, which was then tweeted by a host of people, including comedian Chris Ramsey.
As a result of the social media and press appeal, Liam Chisholm, 24, of Hedgeley Road, Hebburn, who has previous convictions, was arrested and admitted assault.
At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday (Friday) he was sentenced to two years behind bars.
Mr Recorder Ben Nolan QC told him: “Your victim was a 25-year-old man who is described in a victim impact statement as mild mannered young man.
“He suffered from cerebral palsy and learning difficulties and threrefore was an extremely vulnerable young man
“You and two others, for no reason, set about upon him in a park and gave him a very bad beating.
“I have seen the pictures. He has footprints on his face.
“This was an appalling offence of its type.
“Fortunately, the press issued an appeal and members of the public came forward with information that led to your arrest.
“The message must go out that offences of this type will be met with significant prison sentences.”
Richard Herrmann, prosecuting, told the court Mr Thornton was attacked while he was out enjoying a teatime walk with his dog in March last year.
Mr Herrmann said: “Mr Thornton, who was walking his dog, minding his own business, throwing a stick for his dog, was approached from behind.
“He recalls nothing after being punched to the back of the head and remembers then waking up on hospital.”
The injured Mr Thornton was helped by passers by who found him injured.
He was taken to hospital where he had to undergo x-rays and a brain scan but had suffered no permanent or lasting damage.
When Chisholm was arrested he had Mr Thornton’s blood on his shoe.
Mr Herrmann said the effect of the violence on Mr Thornton left him afraid to go out alone and caused a marked change in his behaviour.
Katherine Dunn, defending, said Chisholm had a “troubled childhood” and a serious alcohol problem.
Mr Thornton snr, a 49-year-old spray painter, released the shocking picture after his son’s assault in the hope his attackers would be brought to justice.
He said shortly after the incidnt: “Andrew had been out for about an hour with his dog when he was set upon from behind.
“He can’t remember much of the attack apart from having seen a group of three lads aged about 19 to 22 hanging around on Monkton Lane shortly beforehand, and then being aware of someone approaching him quickly from the behind and to the
“He was knocked down and concussed. There are boot prints on his face.
“A young lad found him afterwards, called paramedics and stayed with him till they arrived, as did a woman who was passing by.
“It just goes to show there are still some good people left in the world.
“It seems like it was a completely random attack. Andrew suffers from cerebral palsy and is the most placid lad you could meet.
“It looks like he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Andrew’s cereral palsy means he has difficulty with speech, but he was able to tell the paramedics his name and postcode.