Witness thought unprovoked attack in Wigan had killed his best friend

Mark Collier and his girlfriend Hayley Melling
Mark Collier and his girlfriend Hayley Melling

A young Wigan man says that a street attack which left him with a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain was a case of mistaken identity.

Mark Collier was knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack in Ashton town centre as he and a friend waited for taxi after a night out watching an England World Cup football match.

The Golborne 28-year-old remembers nothing of the attack himself and, having spent five days in the neurological unit of Salford Royal Hospital, his injuries have meant he is still unable to return to work as a self-employed gardener and has had to cancel a dream holiday with his girlfriend in Gran Canaria because doctors say it not safe for him to travel.

His best friend Adam Buckley, who was also attacked, said that he feared Mark had been killed as he lay seemingly lifeless in the road.

A man has since been arrested on suspicion of assault and bailed pending further inquiries.

The pair along with an acquaintance had gone to watch the England-Tunisia match, initially at the Presidential American Bar on Bolton Road, but left after someone let off a flare there and the room was filled with smoke.

They lost sight of their acquaintance and went on to the Red Lion on Gerard Street to see the rest of the game.

They had planned to carry on the evening in Ashton at another pub on Wigan Road, but on finding it shut decided to head for home and headed to the nearby taxi rank. They saw their acquaintance involved in a fight but kept their distance.

He then came over to join them and then he and Adam went up a dirt track to relieve themselves at which point two men attacked Adam, thinking he was someone who had been with the acquaintance earlier whom they accused of attacking.

Mark doesn’t remember this, but he went over to protect his friend and was himself attacked.

Adam said: “He punched Mark so hard that he flew backwards in the air several feet and was already out cold before hitting the ground.

“The back of his head struck the ground with real force. It sounded like an egg cracking. He was lifeless. I thought he was a gonner.”

Mark said: “We had just gone out to enjoy the football. We didn’t want any trouble, we never laid a finger on anyone all night and yet I ended up nearly being killed.

“It was a case of mistaken identity. The people who attacked us thought we were two other lads who our acquaintance had been with earlier.

“I just hope people learn how dangerous one punch can be. It can ruin people’s lives and I hope people reading this will hopefully prevent it happening to other people.

“I can’t remember the attack, which happened at about at about 9.50pm. The next thing I knew was that it was 6.30am the next day and my mum and girlfriend were sitting next to me in my hospital bed.

“I’ve not been able to work since, my girlfriend Hayley is self-employed too and hasn’t been able to work either because I can’t been left on my own. We had to cancel our holiday and I am frightened to go out. It has had a major impact.”

Mark was in hospital for five days before doctors felt he was well enough to come home.

Adam said: “The incident has really affected me too. I was in tears by the end of it because I thought I was going to lose my best friend.

“It has completely changed my outlook on life. If this is what you get for going out on a night then I’m not going to bother anymore.”

Police are appealing for witnesses to the incident which happened at 9.50pm on the evening of Monday June 18 in Wigan Road, Ashton.

Anyone with details is asked to ring police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.