COUNTY NEWS: Four men guilty of leaving man with brain damage

Four men who left a father with severe brain damage after a '˜brutal' attack more than three years ago in Sussex were found guilty today (Wednesday, October 26).

Alfie Peak and his daughter Summa pictured before the attack. Photo courtesy of Sussex Police. SUS-161026-163633001
Alfie Peak and his daughter Summa pictured before the attack. Photo courtesy of Sussex Police. SUS-161026-163633001

Alfie Peak was attacked outside a takeaway on Sea Road, Bexhill, in the early hours of Saturday, July 27, 2013, leaving him with life changing head injuries.

Zack Dangerfield, 25, of Preston Road, Bexhill, John Panice, 26, of Wartlington Drive, Bexhill, Stephen Luck, 26, of Kinscott Close, Bexhill, and Thomas Unwin, 25, of High Street, Ripley in Derbyshire were convicted of GBH with intent at Hove Crown Court.

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Mr Peak, who was left disabled and unable to speak, said with a computer: “If they go to prison for the rest of their lives then I will try to deal with being in a wheelchair for the rest of mine.”

PICTURED L-R: Panice, Unwin, Luck and Dangerfield SUS-161026-163656001

His 12-year-old daughter Summa added: “It’s not very nice and very unfair knowing my dad did nothing wrong to be like this, in a wheelchair and unable to talk.

“It’s really sad that he can’t do the things he used to be able to do with me like birthdays and Christmases.”

Mr Peak, who was 25 at the time, had been out with his friend Luke Jones in the Devonshire Pub in Bexhill where they had met Dangerfield, Unwin, Panice, Luck.

The pair left the pub at about 2am and went to USA Fried Chicken takeaway on Sea Road to get some food before going home.

Alfie Peak. Photo courtesy of Sussex Police. SUS-161026-163707001

A few minutes later Dangerfield, Unwin, Panice and Luck turned up to do the same, and CCTV shows a relaxed atmosphere between all the men.

However Panice’s interaction with the staff at the takeaway over his chips, changed the evening.

Mr Jones intervened with what was initially words to calm down the situation, but quickly escalated into a verbal confrontation and soon spilled out on the street where Mr Peak was injured.

Police were called at shortly after 2.30am and found Alfie unconscious and being treated before he was rushed to hospital.

Sussex Police released CCTV images of the attack. SUS-161026-163645001

Witnesses, who had come to Mr Peaks aid, described him as being repeatedly kicked in the head and officers found blood on the pavement next to a shop window where his head had smashed into it.

Dangerfield and Unwin were initially identified as being involved and even returned to the scene to laugh as Mr Peak was being treated.

Dangerfield was arrested later on the same day with Unwin being arrested three days later, before the former named Panice and Luck and they were both also identified in the takeaway CCTV. They were arrested the following day.

Detectives working on the case spoke to witnesses and reviewed CCTV and were able to charge the four with the assault a year later.

During the case, the four’s defence claimed it was not them who carried out the attack but they did not know what happened to Mr Peak – but witnesses insisted they saw a group of men repeatedly kick him in the head.

However a jury listened to the evidence presented to them and disagreed, convicting all four of them. They will be sentenced tomorrow (Thursday, October 27).

Mr Peak’s family said it was ‘horrible’ reliving the night of the attack in court and hoped the four would get a long prison sentence while Mr Peak ‘lives his in his own body’.

“We are shocked and saddened to hear how the witnesses described the attack as being so brutal and violent,” the family said in a statement.

“We obviously know that Alfie suffered a very aggressive attack as he has suffered severe brain damage but it’s really horrible listening to it in court.

“We hope some justice is served to Alfie by a long prison sentence for all those involved.

“Alfie will never get to do the things he used to do like boxing or swimming or cooking dinner. It’s changed his life forever.

“Alfie’s living a life sentence in his own body.”

Detective Constable Paul Semple, who has worked on the case since 2013, said: “This was a truly brutal attack which has left a young man with permanent brain damage and confined to a wheelchair, continuing with rehab.

“Alfie was only 25 years of age when this happened and his life will never be the same again as a result.

“Understandably, his family are devastated and we are pleased to see justice done.

“Nothing can change Alfie’s life now but we hope the end to this legal process will being some closure for his family and those who have supported him and provide answers to what happened that night.”

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