Wife's fury as thug who left husband in coma could be free in weeks

‘Our lives were shattered – justice has not been done’: Wife’s fury as thug, 18, who beat her husband as he tried to protect a schoolboy and left him brain damaged could be released from jail in WEEKS

  • Alan Willson, 47, is permanently brain damaged and cannot talk due to the attack
  • His wife Annie said she went ‘buts’ after discovering the attacker would be freed
  • Two brothers Archie, 16 and George Tilley, 14, each received 12 years in prison
  • But Harry Furlong only received 20 months and could be out in a few weeks 

An attacker of a man who was beaten so badly by school bullies as he tried to rescue a child being picked on that he cannot talk is set to walk free in a matter of weeks.

Alan Willson, 47, spent three weeks in a coma after the horrific attack by brothers Archie, 16 and George Tilley, 14, and Harry Furlong, 18, on Easter Sunday last year.

Mr Willson is now permanently brain damaged and cannot talk, meaning he and his wife now rely on hand gestures and body language to understand one another.

A former care worker, Alan sprinted from his home in Worthing, West Sussex, to nearby Longcroft Park when he heard a group of boys were being violent towards an 11-year-old.

But when he tried to intervene he was knocked unconscious – after the group hit him with a three-foot log and shattered his skull.

Harry Furlong, 18, could be released in just four week’s time

Mr Willson suffered lung trauma, broken bones and fractures to his spine – and had to have surgery on his brain in Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton.

Having been found guilty of the crime, the brothers each received a 12-year-sentence but Furlong only received 20 months.

With time already spent inside, he is now set to be released within the next four weeks, despite only being sentenced in June. 

His wife Annie said: ‘Emotionally I am a wreck. I can’t allow my feelings to be shown because I have children.

‘Our whole life has been turned upside down.

‘Everyone thinks justice has been done. But really coming out after two months, that’s not justice.’

Alan has been home with Annie for around a year, during which time Annie told ITV News he has made huge improvements.

She said: ‘Before he was a very intelligent man. He’s still very intelligent. He was perfect, brilliant. And he’s come on so well in the year that he’s been home.’

She added: ‘All our plans have been shattered.’

Annie and Alan Wilson now have to rely on hand gestures, body language and touch in order to communicate

Despite the brain damage, Alan is still ‘very intelligent’ according to his wife, and certainly seems to have retained his sense of humour

A former care worker, Alan sprinted from his home in Worthing, West Sussex, to nearby Longcroft Park when he heard a group of boys were being violent towards an 11-year-old

He was in a coma in hospital for three weeks after having urgent surgery on his brain

Due to already serving time in prison while on remand, Furlong could be free again in a matter of weeks

Annie Willson (left) told ITV that when she learnt Furlong was set to be released, she became sick to her stomach

Speaking of learning that Furlong could be release next month, she said: ‘I am sick to my stomach, I went nuts. I have done nothing but fight for a year, and I’m tired. 

‘He’s [Alan] just completely trapped. 

Alan now has hearing problems, dental problems, cannot go to the toilet by himself or take care of his personal hygiene.

The couple are struggling to get benefits or any compensation because Alan cannot even sign his own name. 

Archie and George Tilley were jailed for 12 years each after they battered the former carerwith a 3ft wooden log in a park following a row over a frisbee.

At their trial, the judge said he was left bloodied, incapacitated and on the ground in the aftermath of the remorseless attack.

Police were called to Whitebeam Road in Worthing at around 19.30pm on April 4, last year after Mr Willson was found injured in the street following the vicious assault in nearby Longcroft Park.

George Tilley was 13 and Archie 14 when they attacked Mr Willson with a force Judge Christine Henson QC described as ‘beyond the comprehension of most people’. 

Archie Tilley had two previous convictions for three offences. George had five convictions for 18 offences. He was only ten at the time of his first recorded offence. All the offences were for violence including ABH and battery.

The jury were shown chilling train station CCTV footage of the boys re-enacting their brutal assault on Mr Willson.

The teenagers bragged and joked as Mr Willson was being airlifted to hospital. A girl who saw the boys at the train station described to police how they were ‘bragging’.

In an impact statement at the time, Mrs Willson said: 

‘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.


The two brothers (left, Archie, right, George) were each given 12 years in prison by the judge

‘He was keen snowboarder and football fan and enjoyed his time with his family, meals out and making his children laugh uncontrollably. We brought our children up with good morals. 

‘I do believe that before this happened, my son and his friends invited you to play football with them. Little did they know what you would end up doing to my Alan.

‘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. He has hearing problems, dental problems, cannot toilet himself or take care of his personal hygiene. 

‘He is not the same man.

‘He is locked in this strange body that he doesn’t understand. He will never again be able to enjoy the things he took so much pleasure in. 

‘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. You have no only subjected him to a life sentence, but also me, our young son and the rest of Alan’s family.

‘Many, many tears have been shed by me and Alan’s family, grieving the loss of a great man. 

‘Even though he is hanging on to life he will never lead a normal life again and will always depend on others.’

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