Ex-soldier’s new appeal for help

Chris Smith
Chris Smith
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A FORMER soldier left for dead in an unprovoked gang attack remains optimistic that justice will be done – despite a poor response to a recent witness appeal.

Chris Smith, 23, appeared in the Mail last month, speaking for the first time about a horrific attack which left him in intensive care with a swollen brain and medics wondering if he would pull through.

Chris Smith in hospital

Chris Smith in hospital

The incident happened when he and his friend, Simon Lamb, walked past the Sun Inn, in Durham Street, on Hartlepool’s Headland, on November 5, 2006.

Simon was also injured in the brutal attack.

Chris, who is managing to rebuild his life after months of intensive therapy, told how, despite no one ever being charged in relation to the attack, he believed the “cowards” who battered him would one day be brought to justice.

But a month after the Mail re-issued an appeal for witnesses to what happened, not one person picked up the phone to provide police with information.

Detective Constable Dave Walker, of Hartlepool CID, who worked on the original case, said: “We have not received any new information. We re-issue the appeal, and all information is welcome.”

Chris, from the Headland, said: “The case is still open, it’s not too late for people to come forward and I know there are people out there who saw what happened.

“They are probably really scared to come forward but it isn’t too late, no matter how trivial they think what they saw or heard.

“I am still confident that one day all the perpetrators involved will be brought to justice.

“I think it’s just a matter of time, and I believe what goes around comes around.”

Five men and one women were arrested but released without charge on the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service.

Chris had been home on his first night of leave from the Army when he was attacked by the gang.

He remembers nothing of the incident and his next memory is waking up a week later, on Remembrance Sunday, at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

The former sapper with the Royal Engineers had suffered swelling of the brain, a broken nose and a black, swollen eye, as well as balance problems.

His Army career was tragically cut short as a result.

Chris, who is a fitness instructor at Fitness Connexion and is soon to set up his own personal training and sports massage business, said: “I don’t know how they feel about what they did, but I know how they should be feeling.

“They should be feeling petrified, looking over their shoulder and worried that they will be brought to justice.

“It’s all a matter of when, not if.”

Chris thanked the Mail for keeping interest in the case open.

Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call Det Con Walker on (01642) 326326 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.