Three teens who beat dad into coma with wooden log in 'vicious' attack jailed

1 July 2022, 12:53

George Tilley, Harry Furlong and Archie Tilley have all been jailed.
George Tilley, Harry Furlong and Archie Tilley have all been jailed. Picture: Sussex Police

By Sophie Barnett

Three teenage boys have been jailed after launching a vicious attack on a father who stood up to them to stop them from bullying a child.

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Alan Willson, 47, was found with catastrophic head injuries in Longcroft Park in Worthing on Easter Sunday in April 2021 and is now unable to speak.

He was brutally attacked by three boys after he confronted them for pushing over an 11-year-old boy in an argument over a game of frisbee.

The savage attack left Mr Willson with "significant life-changing brain injuries" and he is unable to walk or talk, and has "no mental capacity".

Two boys who can now be named - Archie Tilley, 16, and George Tilley, 14, were found guilty of grievous bodily harm with intent.

Both were classified as dangerous offenders and received a sentence of nine years with three additional years on license.

They were the "ringleaders" in the incident and were convicted of beating Mr Willson with a wooden log.

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Alan Willson has been left brain damaged by the "vicious" attack.
Alan Willson has been left brain damaged by the "vicious" attack. Picture: Sussex Police

Harry Furlong, 18, was acquitted of grievous bodily harm with intent but found guilty by a majority jury of grievous bodily harm without intent. He was jailed for 20 months on Thursday.

He was not classified as a dangerous offender and will serve half in custody and half on licence.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Alan’s wife Annie Willson said "no sentence will ever be long enough".

She told the court the boys "destroyed" her family and have "broken us beyond repair".

George Tilley, 14, was sentenced to 12 years.
George Tilley, 14, was sentenced to 12 years. Picture: Sussex Police

"I will never forget turning up in that park and seeing what you had done to my Alan," she said.

"You took away a husband, father, granddad, brother, cousin, and uncle. Alan was the gentlest man who would help anyone at the drop of a hat, no questions asked. You attacked him as a group and did not stop until he was on the floor, bleeding and unconscious.

"Now, because of your actions, my husband cannot speak, cannot play with his children, cannot work and cannot control his body. He has no mental capacity, no vision in his left eye and has a massive brain injury from which he will never fully recover."

She added he is "not the same man" and has been "locked in this strange body that he doesn't understand".

Archie Tilley, 16, was given a 12-year sentence, which includes nine years in prison and three on licence.
Archie Tilley, 16, was given a 12-year sentence, which includes nine years in prison and three on licence. Picture: Sussex Police

"He will never again be able to enjoy the things he took so much pleasure in," she continued.

"He no longer says silly things to make us laugh. He no longer gives us hugs and cuddles that we used to enjoy so much.

"No sentence that you get will ever be long enough as it is Alan who has the life sentence together with myself and my family."

Lewes Crown Court previously heard how Mr Willson was pushed over by the one of the teens - then aged 13, 14 and 17.

He was then “whacked” with a 3ft log - causing a "loud crack" as his ribs broke. The three boys were then caught on CCTV at a railway station re-enacting the bloody battering less than an hour later.

Harry Furlong, 18.
Harry Furlong, 18. Picture: Sussex Police

The jury were played a 999 call from Furlong the day after the attack. When he was asked by the call handler if he carried out the attack, the teenager said: “Yeah. Allegedly.”

At the sentencing outside court, a police spokesperson said: "This was a sickening and violent assault on Alan, who was simply helping out a young boy.

"The effect this has had on Alan is immense and the attack will affect him and his family for the rest of their lives."

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