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More than £250,000 has been raised for pensioner Alan Barnes

More than £250,000 has been raised for pensioner Alan Barnes

More than £250,000 has been raised for pensioner Alan Barnes

Detectives hunting a mugger whose cowardly attack on a disabled and visually impaired pensioner sickened the nation have revealed that forensic evidence might lead them to the offender.

And beautician Katie Cutler who kicked off an online donation page for frail Alan Barnes, which had reached almost £300,000 by lunchtime today, has politely declined money raised for her by impressed well-wishers.

Mr Barnes was attacked outside his home in Low Fell, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, last Sunday evening and has been left too frightened to go back.

The mugger pushed his 67-year-old, 4ft 6in victim on to the pavement and went through his pockets before running off and leaving him in severe pain with a broken collarbone.

Police have stressed that the investigation was continuing, more than a week on.

Detective Constable Chris Neil said it was a cowardly assault on a man unable to defend himself.

"It has left him feeling vulnerable, but thankfully he has seen the kindness of others who are helping him through his plight," the officer said.

"We do not have a description or direction of travel of the offender but someone will know something about the man involved.

"We do have potential forensic evidence which we've recovered, so I'd urge people to get in touch with information, no matter how insignificant they feel it may be - it could prove to be vital."

People living in the Hillside Place area may have useful private CCTV, he said.

Ms Cutler, 21, from Greenside, Gateshead, was so moved by reports in the media about the attack that she set up the Alan Barnes Fund on the Go Fund Me website.

Its original £500 target to buy curtains and carpets for his new home was quickly reached and the appeal was shared around the world.

More than 22,500 people have since donated, many leaving heart-felt messages of support.

Mr Barnes, who still wears a sling, was unavailable for comment at his sister's house.

Earlier, he told BBC Breakfast he will seek advice about his massive windfall, but vowed "it will be put to good use".

He praised Ms Cutler, whom he met for the first time yesterday, saying: "She's just an absolutely wonderful girl.

"She gave us a hug - I'm not used to giving people I don't know a hug.

"We chatted a bit and it was just amazing."

Asked what his message was to the kind donors, he said: "Thank you doesn't seem to be enough, but I really appreciate it."

Meanwhile, a separate fund for people to thank the young mother for her efforts has reached £780 - despite Ms Cutler saying she could not accept the cash.

Its creator, Catherine Kirkley, wrote: "We all know Katie has done a wonderful job for Alan. Let's help her have a wonderful holiday x".

Donor Dennis Price thanked her for bringing some good news - after the painful attack Mr Barnes suffered - to the nation.

He said: "Your kind and selfless act for this poor man has led to his life being transformed for the better, while seeing the generosity and warmth of all the people who have contributed to the fund you set up has made the whole country feel better."

Ms Cutler wrote on the donation page: "Hello everyone this is so incredibly kind but I really can't accept anything.

"I have my full life to work & I can't help but feel that there are people out there who would really need it."

And responding to comments that the donations could pay for her honeymoon, she said: "I'm not not in any hurry to get married too but honestly I don't deserve this."

The page creator said the money was Ms Cutler's to do with as she chose, and could give it away.

"If Katie chooses to donate this money to another cause then I support her choice 100%," she said.

Anyone with information about the attack on Mr Barnes is asked to call Northumbria Police on 101.