'Kind and Gentle' Dad Brutally Beaten While Defending Son From Bullies

A man is "fighting for his life" in the U.K. after being brutally assaulted while attempting to protect his 11-year-old son from a group of teenagers.

Alan Willson, 46, of Worthing in West Sussex, was hospitalized on Sunday (April 4) after being found injured in Longcroft Park. He was transported to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, where he remains in a serious condition, police said.

According to The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper, Willson rushed to the scene after he heard the teenagers attacking his son but was then targeted by the group. Willson was left in a coma after being knocked unconscious with an object to the head.

The victim's wife Annie, 69, said on Facebook her husband was "fighting for his life after brain surgery for multiple bleeds on the brain," the Evening Standard reported.

Annie Willson continued in the social media post: "He is the most kind and gentle man in the world. My 11-year-old son you have also given mental trauma.

"A father coming to rescue his son because you started physically hurting him and throwing him on the ground. The ventilator won't work properly. He has facial fractures. I hope you are proud of yourself. We have been told now to just live life day by day."

Sussex Police said in a statement posted to its website that five boys had been arrested in connection with the serious assault, without confirming their exact ages.

Four teens were arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and grievous bodily harm with intent on April 4, and released under bail conditions as the probe continues.

A fifth boy was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder on Monday, April 5, and also released under bail conditions, which included strict curfews, staying at a given address away from the local area and not associating with each other, local police said.

A crowdfunding campaign for the victim has raised more than £30,000 ($41,200) at the time of writing, with messages of support for the family flooding social media.

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The victim's daughter Becky Willson, 25, said in a Facebook post on April 7: "I just want to stop dreaming about it. I'm so tired."

In an update the previous day, she wrote: "Words can not describe how grateful I am of how much has been given to help my mum and family out at this time. i'm so shocked this will help my mum out so much while my dad is in hospital thank you so much."

Police said the case was being treated as an "isolated incident" and more patrols would be conducted in the area to "identify and deter any further criminal behavior."

Detective Inspector Simon Dunn, who is now spearheading the police probe, said: "The assault and the build up to it occurred in a public park in daylight, so it was likely that other people would have witnessed the assault or the suspects running from the scene. I am keen to hear from anyone who has information but is yet to come forward."

UK police
Police officers standing behind a police cordon at the scene of a stabbing at Willesden Lane on February 7, 2021 in London, England. A West Sussex man is “fighting for his life” in the U.K. after being brutally assaulted while attempting to protect his 11-year-old son from a group of teenagers. Hollie Adams/Getty Images