As violent crime in Wigan reaches new highs, the victim of an unprovoked assault who was left for dead in the street has spoken out about the heartbreaking impact the attack has had on his life.
Recent Home Office figures have revealed a 108 per cent increase in assault without injury in the past two years, and a 29 per cent increase in assaults with intent to cause serious harm.
One victim - Mark Collier, from Golborne - was out in Ashton with his best friend Adam Buckley to see England take on their first World Cup group game against Tunisia when the attack happened.
The pair, who were making their way home after the match, were set upon by several young men, one of whom punched Mark in the face knocking him to the floor where he smacked his head and fell unconscious after suffering a bleed on the brain.
The next thing the 28-year-old remembers is waking up in Salford Royal Hospital with his terrified fiancée and mum by his bedside.
Since the harrowing incident, Mark said that his life has begun to unravel. Once a self-employed landscape gardener, he has been forced to abandon his business as the effects of the brain injury rendered him unable to drive or even leave the house alone.
“I feel like this has ruined my life,” he said. “I have lost my business now and with that £12,000 of contracts.
“I can’t go out on my own now because of the dizzy spells. Before I used to be so confident and active and now I worry when there is a group of lads - I wonder if anyone is looking at me funny.”
The assault, Mark said, has had repercussions wider than just his physical symptoms - sending shockwaves throughout his entire family and friendship group.
Mark, who is engaged to his long-term partner Hayley Melling, said that he fears it has impacted her life. His mum, Lisa Collier, and best friend Adam, have rallied round to help the couple, who are planning to marry in May 2020.
“Hayley hasn’t been doing anything she would normally do,” he said. “She’s picking me up, but who is picking her up?
“I’m worried about affording the wedding now too. I was someone who had never missed a bill in my life until this. It has affected everyone.”
Mark spoke out about the rocketing number of assaults in the borough, saying that drug use seems to play a major part in violence in the streets.
“I think drugs are just horrendous in Wigan,” he said. “You can go into any lads toilet in any pub and there are people gathered around a cubicle doing drugs. I think that is playing a big part in the violence.”
Following the assault, a man was arrested by police but has been released pending further investigation.
Police are appealing for witnesses to the incident which happened at 9.50pm on the evening of June 18 in Wigan Road, Ashton. Anyone with details should call 101.