Published: 14:21, 08 September 2021
| Updated: 14:22, 08 September 2021
A mother from Tonbridge was told her son was lucky not to be paralysed after being attacked with a wrench in a park.
Now Marie Wheatley has launched a petition for CCTV cameras after a string of incidents there.
Freddy and his mum Marie talking about the incident
Freddy Wheatley, 14, suffered bruising to his back in the incident, at Longmead Park on Saturday afternoon, and was taken to hospital.
Police confirmed they were called to a report that the teenager was assaulted by another boy who was known to him. Enquiries into the incident are ongoing and there have been no arrests.
The young boy said to be quite confused by his friend's actions, as they were playing together at the skate park until then.
He said: "My friend was on the phone to his dad asking if he could swap bikes. I went over to his car with him but I thought it was a bit strange because there wasn't a bike in the back of the car. Then, he pulled out a wrench, chased me with it and hit me next to the back of my spine."
Freddy's mum rushed to the park minutes after receiving the news from a security guard who was on site.
She said: "The moment I got that call my heart went to my stomach. I was just thinking the worst."
Her son stayed in A&E for four hours and despite the bad bruising, Mrs Wheatley is relieved that nothing worse happened.
She added: "He could have been paralysed. And if he'd been struck in the head, it would’ve killed him.
"I suffer from anxiety over this. As soon as he goes out the door, my anxiety is through the roof. I get visions of him coming in covered in blood. I just think the worst all the time. That’s how bad it got at the park."
Freddy missed his first day back to school as he was still recovering from his injuries. He also had to spend his birthday quietly at home.
Adam Webster works as a security guard for Tonbridge Angels Football Club, also located in Longmead Park. He witnessed the attack when driving out of the car park after work.
He recalls the attacker running towards Freddy with a wrench, making him drive his vehicle between both boys to break them up. The aggressor then ran back into his dad's car.
He said: "From what I heard from the aggressor, there was a long outstanding feud between the boys - a ‘love and hate relationship’ as he put it."
According to Mr Webster, the dad did not do anything to stop his son from attacking Freddy.
He added: "Regardless of whatever Freddy was being accused of, he didn’t deserve to be attacked with a wrench."
Mrs Wheatley hopes her petition can result in more 'decent security' at the park as violence and bullying have become ongoing issues.
She said: "I don’t want this to be brushed under the carpet. I want something to be done about this.
"How far does it have to go before they listen? Is it going to take for a child to be killed before they actually take action?"
Councillor Matt Boughton from Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council is supportive Mrs Wheatley's petition.
In an email to the mum, he said: "I have constantly championed and advocated for better and enhanced CCTV throughout the town, especially at key areas such as Longmead.
"Since then, I have become Leader of the Council and I can confirm that better and more creative use of CCTV is something we are looking into at Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and I would be happy to keep you, and all those who have signed your petition, updated."
A spokesperson from TMBC also commented on the issue.
They said: "There are three permanent CCTV cameras covering the site, which are live monitored by operators in the CCTV control room. Operators can control the cameras to focus in on particular areas or incidents if any are reported and will liaise directly with the Police.
"As a result of the recent incidents the operators are being requested to spend additional time monitoring the park and, in particular, the areas where problems have occurred."
Freddy's mum had the idea of launching the petition while at the hospital with him. The petition had more than 1,000 signatures over the first 24 hours. It is now shy of its 2,500-signature goal.
To sign it, click here.