'˜He's a very good soul' - vicar tells of finding fire attack victim in South Shields church yard

WARNING: The attached video contains footage you may find distressing.

Tuesday, 29th May 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 29th May 2018, 7:56 am
Father Chris Fuller at St Hildas Church

A South Tyneside vicar has told of finding a rough sleeper who was injured after being set on fire in his churchyard.

The Reverend Christopher Fuller, of St Hilda’s Church, South Shields, has kept in touch with the victim - who suffered lifelong scars - since the horrific incident last July.

Father Chris Fuller at St Hildas Church

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Last week, Khaled Hassan, 43, of Beach Road, South Shields, was jailed for nine-and-a half years after admitting causing grievous bodily harm with intent and attempted theft.

With a friend - Mark Liddle, 51, Hassan had pulled the victim’s blanket over his head to disorientate him when they saw him sleeping in the church yard - and set fire to it and the victim’s sleeping bag.

Liddle, also of Beach Road, South Shields, admitted attempted theft and two malicious communications charges in relation to abusive text messages, unrelated to this case.

He was sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Rev Fuller said the victim had suffered a second blow - breaking a leg, two months ago, and had subsequently entered supported living accommodation in Newcastle.

He said: “He’s such a nice guy and very good soul. He hasn’t had an easy time. I last saw him about two months ago and he was doing OK.

“He ended up in hospital recently after breaking his leg and then for whatever reason has gone into supported living.”

He added: “When I first found him, it wasn’t obvious that he was so badly hurt.

“It was only when he got to hospital that the extent of his injuries became clear.

“He has subsequently shown me his wounds and they are quite unpleasant, but he has thankfully recovered well.”

Newcastle Crown Court heard the attack took place in the early hours of July 9 last year - leaving the 59-year-old victim “bloodied and burned”.

The pair rifled through the man’s pockets looking for something to steal before Liddle left the grounds and Hassan launched the horror attack, which was caught on CCTV.