Worthing park attack: police reveal details about investigation as three teens await sentencing

Detectives have provided an insight into the investigation which led to the conviction of three teenagers after a Worthing father was left with life-changing injuries.

Care worker Alan Willson was attacked in Longcroft Park, Durrington, on Easter Sunday last year.

After a trial lasting more than a week, on Thursday (May 12) a jury found two boys under the age of 16 – who cannot be named for legal reasons – guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

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Harry Furlong, 18, of Horsham, was cleared of causing grievous bodily harm with intent but found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm.

Care worker Alan Willson was attacked in Longcroft Park, Durrington, on Easter Sunday last year. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

Mr Willson, 47, was beaten with a wooden log and left with 'severe' brain injuries and multiple fractures, Lewes Crown Court at Hove was told. He was not expected to survive and has made a 'limited recovery'.

Following the incident, Sussex Police began searching for the suspects. Based on descriptions from witnesses, they were able to identify three boys – two on foot and one on a bicycle – seen on CCTV heading away from the park, police said.

A police spokesperson said: "Officers continued to trace the boys’ movements on CCTV. The two younger boys were seen heading to a nearby address, where they changed their clothes before meeting back up with the third boy at Goring railway station.

"There, the boys were seen retelling and re-enacting the assault in front of a group of other people. Witnesses described them as bragging about their actions in the park."

Alan Willson suffered life-changing injuries as a result of the assault. Photo: Sussex Police

Police said the two younger boys were identified from the footage and arrested later that evening. The third boy handed himself in to the police the next day.

All three were interviewed on several occasions and remained silent throughout.

Investigators began to build a case – police said forensic material attributed two of three suspects to the log used during the assault, and two of the three suspects were picked out of identity parades by witnesses.

The evidence was presented to the Crown Prosecution Service, which authorised charges for all three boys.

Investigators began to build a case – police said forensic material attributed two of three suspects to the log used during the assault, and two of the three suspects were picked out of identity parades by witnesses. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

Mr Willson suffered life-changing injuries as a result of the assault. He was unable to walk, talk or swallow.

Police said that, through extensive rehabilitation, he has been able to walk and eat again, however more than a year after the assault, he is still unable to talk.

Chief Inspector Sarah Leadbeatter, district commander for Worthing, said: “I completely understand the shock and upset this horrific incident has caused, not only for those who know Alan but the wider community as well.

“I would like to reassure communities that we continue to do huge amounts of work in Worthing to try and tackle issues around youth violence and anti-social behaviour.”

Harry Furlong, 18, of Horsham, was cleared of causing grievous bodily harm with intent but found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm.