THE innocent victim of a glassing at an exclusive festival at a plush hotel has spoken of how he almost died following the attack.
Neil Parsons needed 167 stitches in his neck after he was stabbed with a champagne flute during a brawl that involved Hartlepool men and followed the prestigious Lobster Festival, at the Hardwick Hall Hotel, in Sedgefield.
He spent a week in hospital, having lost six-and-a-half pints of blood, and around eight months off work after his family had been warned that he may not pull through.
Neil, who turns 50 on Tuesday and runs Bishop Auckland-based Loos 4 Hire, had been delivering portable toilets for the festival earlier in the day with his son Adam.
He stepped in after Stuart Bell, from Burnhope, in County Durham, was headbutted by another man and the attacker fell to the ground.
He tried to help the man up, but this was mistaken for an attack and a scuffle involving up to 20 others ensued.
During the “melee” on April 27, 2012, Neil was stabbed in the neck with a champagne flute, leaving a gaping wound that required 167 stitches.
He was rushed to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, but transferred to James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, where he was to spend a week in intensive care.
It was thanks to the efforts of an Army medic on leave from Afghanistan at the hospital that his life was saved.
He said: “I lost three stone in the space of three or four months as I couldn’t eat.
“Everything in my neck was damaged.
“I nearly lost my life.
“What hurt me more than anything was the doctors having to call my family in as they didn’t think I would make it.”
He said he and his son – who had to have counselling after the attack – had delivered luxury mobile toilets to the venue, as they have done before, when they were caught up in the brawl.
Neil, who is now badly scarred, described a “terrible” pain after he had been struck with the glass.
Dwane Douglas, 48, of Sitwell Walk, Hartlepool, and David Garside, 29, of The Oval, both Hartlepool, admitted affray after being involved in pushing and shoving in the scuffle.
On Friday at Durham Crown Court, Douglas was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for 12 months with 150 hours unpaid work and Garside was given four months, suspended for 12 months, with a £500 fine and 100 hours unpaid work,
Bell, 46, of The Front, Burnhope, County Durham, was given a two-year conditional discharge after admitting a public order offence.
Police are hunting Hartlepool man John Charles Mullen, 47, in connection with the attack and the court heard he could be abroad.
Dad-of-three and grandfather-of-three Neil said: “I didn’t want any of those lads who were at court on Friday to go to prison.
“At the end of the day it was a fight, the only one I think should go to prison is the lad who stabbed me.
“These lads have had two years of uncertainty of whether they were going to prison or not.”
Neil, from Bishop Auckland, said his biggest regret was not knowing what his attacker looked like and he felt uncomfortable that he could walk past him in the street one day.
But despite his ordeal, he insisted if he saw someone in difficulty again he would help them.