3 05 2008

Disabled man victim of horrific attack

1 May 2008

By Robert Sutcliffe

Yorkshire Post


Police are hunting three men who carried out a vicious and unprovoked attack on a disabled man which left him seriously injured.

The 42-year-old victim, Damian Shepherd, who has cerebral palsy, was walking home when he was grabbed and attacked by three men just before midnight on Wednesday.

He suffered severe head and facial injuries in the attack, which took place in Cornholme, Todmorden.

Last night, he was in a critical but stable condition in intensive care at the Royal Oldham Hospital.

Det Insp Tony Nicholson of Calderdale CID said: “This was a horrific attack on a vulnerable man who clearly has disabilities. On the face of it it would seem this was a completely unprovoked assault with no indication of what sparked the confrontation.

“The victim has no defensive injuries. He wasn’t in any position at all to defend himself from the blows carried out by three young, fit men. His face is swollen, his eyes are shut and he is lucky to survive.”

Mr Shepherd, who lives in Cornholme, was walking home along Burnley Road when the three attackers grabbed him.

He was dragged on to a side street, Knotts Road, where he was beaten about the head and face.

A young couple living in a cottage nearby heard a commotion and ran out on to the street only to see the attackers flee back along Burnley Road, in the direction of Todmorden.

They wrapped him in a blanket and looked after him until paramedics and police arrived.

He was initially taken to Rochdale Infirmary but because of the seriousness of his injuries, he was transferred to Oldham.

Mr Nicholson said Mr Shepherd had been drinking Coke in The Staff of Life, on Burnley Road, 25-30 yards from where he was found, from 6.30pm to 10.30pm.

But he said officers were in the dark about his movements after he left the pub.

He added: “We are keen to speak to anyone who saw him between 10.30pm and midnight and, of course, we want to speak to the people who were seen to be running from the scene.”

John King, a barman at The Staff, said: “Everyone has been very shocked about what happened. We have got to know him quite well. He has been coming in here for a about a year now and comes in for company.

“He drinks soft drinks – mainly blackcurrant and water – and enjoys walking his pedigree dogs”

Yesterday, the area was cordoned off and a police tent put up while scenes of crime officers carried out forensic investigations.

Detectives were carrying out door-to-door inquiries and speaking to staff and regulars at The Staff of Life.

The attackers are all described as white men, aged in their late teens or early 20s, about 5ft 5in to 5ft 7in tall.

One man had short blonde hair and was wearing a blue jacket and jeans. Another was wearing a dark-coloured jacket and jeans.

Police are appealing for witnesses and anyone with information to get in touch urgently on 01422 337085 or to ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.




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