Mum’s fury after attack on son

Matthew Whitworth
Matthew Whitworth

A FURIOUS mum has slammed police after a man who beat up her 13-year-old son was given just a caution.

School pupil Matthew Whitworth suffered a swollen eye, bruising to his face and scratches to his neck after being dragged from his bike and punched twice in the head.

His injuries came after one of the teenager’s friends insulted a man outside a Hartlepool pub about his hairline, and he took his anger out on Matthew.

His mum, Carol Whitworth, 49, signed a form agreeing to give the man a caution - meaning he admitted the offence but doesn’t have to appear in court - but says she was in shock at the time and it should not have been an option.

Cleveland Police says a caution “was warranted” and both the victim and family had been consulted.

Carol, who works in the University Hospital of Hartlepool’s maternity unit, said: “I didn’t realise how bad it was at first and the bruise on his face just got bigger and bigger.

“You could see the fear in his eyes as well.

“I did sign this piece of paper, and they’ve said that’s the end of it, but I’m not happy that a man can attack a child and not go to court.

“I don’t have dealings with the police and we were both in shock.

“I didn’t know how cautions and things work. This is not acceptable.”

Matthew had been with a group of friends near Hartlepool’s war memorial in Victory Square when one made the cheeky comment to a 33-year-old man outside King Johns Tavern.

Matthew’s friends ran away and left him to face the insulted reveller, who grabbed his hoodie, pulled it so he came crashing down head first onto the pavement and struck him with his fist.

Two police officers, who had been nearby, arrested the man after Matthew’s pals told them what had happened at 7pm on Thursday, March 8.

The badly-shaken High Tunstall College of Science student was taken to One Life Hartlepool, in Park Road, for x-rays.

He could not sleep on the night because of the pain, and had to take the Friday off school while his wounds healed.

Carol, who lives in Dalton Piercy with taxi driver husband Alan, 49, added: “It’s not right what they said, but it does not mean you can beat up a 13-year-old boy.

“If I had done it, do you think the police would just let me off with a caution? No. They would have social services and all sorts involved, and I’d lose my job.”

Home Office guidelines say cautions should be given “to deal quickly and simply with less serious offences, to divert offenders where appropriate from appearing in the criminal courts and to reduce the likelihood of re-offending”.

They can be used in future court appearances and are held on a person’s criminal record.

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “Dependent on the nature of the offence and the previous character of the suspect, a caution may be appropriate.

“In this case, a caution was warranted, and was given after consultation with the victim and their family on the night of the incident.”