THE family of a little girl who suffered severe head injuries when she was attacked by a teenage boy say they have been forced to move from their home town.
The family of the young girl, who suffered horrific injuries in the assault earlier this year, have released a shocking image showing the patchwork of scars and staples on her head in the aftermath of the attack.
Connor Hodgson, 16, was high on drink and drugs when he lured the ten-year-old victim away from her friends and beat her with a blunt weapon close to the River Tees, Stockton.
The girl was found two hours after the attack wandering on a street near the riverside after being throttled and battered by him.
In July, Hodgson was jailed indefinitely at Teesside Crown Court after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
Hodgson, who was regarded as a harmless teenager who played football on his estate in the centre of Stockton, said in court he could not remember the attack after bingeing on booze and drugs.
The victim's family, who did not want to be named, said she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and nightmares and is terrified of anything that reminds her of the day of the attack.
They have now decided to leave their home town and start a new life to help their daughter recover.
The girl's mother said: "She was like a prisoner in her own home and could never go out.
“She is a lot better now that we’re not in Stockton. No one is pointing fingers and whispering about us anymore.”
On April 7, the day of the attack, the girl had spent a day at Seaton Carew beach, enjoying fish and chips and ice cream, and when the family returned home she played out again with her brothers, aged 14 and six.
Her mother was alarmed when her daughter failed to return home and contacted police.
Four hours later she was found with severe head injuries. She had compound fractures of the skull and needed surgery to relieve the pressure from her brain. She had been choked, beaten on the head with a weapon and kicked and punched.
Her mother said: "Anything she associates with that day causes a violent reaction. She can’t bear to see rivers, bridges or any boys wearing glasses.”
She said even the smell of fish and chips was traumatic for the little girl.
"With that head injury she could have died,” she added. “He’d hidden her in bushes so she wouldn’t have been found.
“Nothing excuses what he did to my little girl. He’s robbed me of that innocent, giggling, funny, chatterbox daughter.”