It was the weekend between Christmas and New Year when news of the attack on father-to-be Billy Livesley shook the community.
Premature rumours of his death led to tributes being posted on social media and the start of a makeshift shrine on Bickershaw Lane, Abram, close to where he was found.
Blue balloons bearing the words “RIP Billy” had already been left there by Saturday afternoon, despite Billy still fighting for life, first at Wigan Infirmary and then at Salford Royal Hospital.
He was taken to the operating theatre, but he had a “non-survivable brain injury” and sadly died before any surgery could be carried out.
He was pronounced dead at 5.30pm on Saturday, December 28.
His family was around him when his life support machine was switched off later that day.
The former Rose Bridge High School pupil was just eight days short of his 22nd birthday and was expecting a baby with his girlfriend of two-and-a-half years, Leah Galvin.
In a moving tribute released via the police, his mother Sylvia Mitchell described him as “one in a million” and said her son was “loved by everyone who knew him”.
The jury was shown a video of Ms Galvin being interviewed by the police, in which she said her boyfriend was “bubbly, chatty” and with “a dead good personality”.
She said he had a “heart of gold”, while his friend Dillon Bland told the court Billy “would do anything for anyone”.
There was an outpouring of grief as people wanted to pay their respects to Billy.
The shrine on Bickershaw Lane quickly grew, with cards, letters, flowers, balloons, football shirts and many other items left in his honour.
Heartbreakingly, an ultrasound scan of the baby he will never meet was also placed there, tied to a lamp post.
An online fund-raising appeal was set up to pay for Billy’s funeral and donations quickly poured in.
Plans were also made for a weekend of sporting activities to mark what would have been the keen sportsman’s 22nd birthday.
He played for Abram FC and Ince Rose Bridge Rugby Club and both teams took part in fund-raising matches the weekend after he died to help raise money.
Dozens of balloons were released into the sky at the rugby game to remember Billy. In a separate tribute, a minute’s silence was held before matches in Wigan Amateur League.
Billy was a passionate fan of Everton FC and the club took to social media to ask supporters to honour him during their match against AFC Bournemouth. Thousands of fans broke into applause in the 21st minute for Billy’s family, who were in attendance.
Nearly two months after Billy died, his loved ones were finally able to say goodbye when his funeral was held.
Platt Bridge came to a standstill as roads were closed so a massive procession made up of thousands of people could make its way to St Nathaniel’s Parish Church.
Leading the way was a horse-drawn carriage carrying Billy’s coffin. The white horses were draped with material bearing the emblem for Everton FC.
They were followed by dozens of riders on motorbikes and quad bikes, revving their engines as they travelled to the church.
And behind the vehicles were thousands of people on foot, creating a sea of royal blue as many people wore Everton’s team colour in honour of Billy.
So many people attended that only a small proportion could fit inside the church for the funeral, with many more standing outside and listening to the service via speakers.
Billy was described as “my boy with the million dollar smile” by his father Scott Livesley, while others said he had a “heart of gold” and was the “life and soul of the party”.
His friend Robbie Valentine, who set up the online fund-raiser and organised the rugby match, said a massive £32,000 had been collected in total to pay for the huge send-off.
Any money remaining would be used to support Billy’s baby.
He now hopes to set up a charity which will help other families who suddenly lose a loved one by helping to cover the costs of their funerals.
It will be a lasting legacy for popular Billy.