Dad attacked and mugged yards from own front door says he ‘won’t be the last’

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Stephen Johnstone, 59, was knocked unconscious and his mobile phone and van keys stolen during the early morning mugging

A man who was attacked and left unconscious yards from his front door has said he “won’t be the last” and that he was “thankful” the consequences were not worse.

Stephen Johnstone, 59, suffered a fractured eye socket and concussion after a gang of thugs knocked him unconscious and stole his mobile phone and van keys.

The incident took place early on Saturday morning as Stephen walked home from a pub in South Shields after drinking with his son, Michael.

As he took his phone out to tell his partner he would be back later than expected, he was suddenly attacked from behind.

“I can remember very very little,” he told ChronicleLive. “I was walking the mile home and I got about 200 yards from my partner’s door and that’s all I can remember until I woke up.”

Stephen took a taxi to the hospital where he was told he had a fractured eye socket and concussion.

He also required stitches to repair the wounds on his face and was told to return to hospital for another scan on his head.

He said: “I think this is a sign of the times. I won’t be the first, and I won’t be the last. It was a cowardly attack. It’s not what you expect on a Friday night. It was just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“If it had been anyone a bit frailer than me or a bit less robust we could be talking about something totally different now. It’s a small step between assault and death.”

Although he was angry he was attacked so close to his home, he was also thankful he had not suffered a worse result.

He said: “I must have walked home a thousand times in my life. These people just take advantage. They must have seen me on my phone, and then the rest is history.”

His attackers remain at large and Stephen has urged anyone who knows who they are to come forward.

“Let’s hope common sense prevails,” he said. “It could be your dad, your granddad or your brother next. Fortunately I’m someone who believes there is more good in the world than bad.

“But it does make you think. I just hope somebody does come forward with some information and that justice prevails.”

His son, Michael, has returned to the scene to ask if any local residents or businesses have any CCTV or other information that could help identify the attackers.

The 32-year-old said: “They have given him a hell of a kicking. It’s really shook him up. I’m not going to sit back and do nothing.”

Police are investigating the attack and have appealed for witnesses.

A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “An investigation has been launched following a report of an assault in the Halstead Place area of South Shields.

“A man was walking home at about 1am on September 25 when he was assaulted by a group of males, who then ran off.

“The victim suffered facial injuries and was taken to hospital as a precaution.

“Enquiries are ongoing into the incident. Anyone with information is asked to contact police.”