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Ballymoney man suffered bleeding on his brain after vicious assault in Lancashire


Oliver Sparkes with his dad Bernard

Oliver Sparkes with his dad Bernard

Oliver in hospital after the attack in Burnley

Oliver in hospital after the attack in Burnley

Oliver Sparkes with his dad Bernard

A young man from Co Antrim who was beaten and struck on the head with a brick was saved by a quick-thinking Good Samaritan who chased away the attackers and called an ambulance, his father has said.

Oliver Sparkes (20), who was attacked as he walked along a street in the Lancashire city of Burnley, suffered bleeding to his brain and a broken nose among other injuries after he was assaulted by at least two males early on Monday morning.

Mr Sparkes, from Ballymoney, a father-of-one who is expecting a second child in three months, was released from hospital on Wednesday, his father Bernard said.

"It will be rest and rest and rest for him, but he's been so lucky," Mr Sparkes said.

He added that a local resident saw the young man being beaten, ran out of his house and chased the attackers before even more damage could be done.

The resident also captured the attack on CCTV, Mr Sparkes said.

The victim's girlfriend, Megan Ann Howard, wrote in a Facebook post: "Whoever has done this is pure scum - you nearly took a father away from his two children all because you think you're a hard man.

"I hope you're proud."

The couple are expecting their second child in May.

His father added that his son's dream of joining the Army could have been derailed by the attack, which happened around 3.30am in an area described by Mr Sparkes as one of the roughest in the city.

"He is desperate to go into the Army," he said.

"Something like this could have scuppered any of the chances to do that."

The injured man's mother, Patricia, the author of a series of children's books called the Shelltown series, rushed with other family members from their home in Ballymoney to be at her son's bedside.

Oliver moved to England approximately three years ago.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said officers were called to the scene of a reported assault just before 3.25am on Monday.

"It was reported to have happened around 10 minutes previously when the victim, a 20-year-old man, was walking with a group of friends between Burnham Gate and Trafalgar Street when they were approached by two men making threats," he said.

"There was an altercation, with the victim being punched and kicked to his body and face."

Bernard Sparkes - a film producer and actor who has appeared in Game Of Thrones among other credits - said his son was walking with one other friend when they heard shouts from a group of men.

Both ran but Oliver then stopped and stood his ground to face the attackers while his friend escaped, according to Mr Sparkes.

The father, who lives in Sunderland, had to drive for several hours through snowy weather to reach the hospital in Blackburn without knowing exactly what happened to his son.

"They were very careful not to give details, just to say I had to be there," he said. "That was the worst."

A series of brain scans were carried out, which revealed the bleeding.

Mr Sparkes also said he was told one of the attackers posted on Facebook that he had hit someone over the head with a brick with timing consistent with the attack on Oliver Sparkes. The post was later removed.

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