, News Editor
Friday, February 15, 2013
Police are this week offering a £10,000 reward to help solve one of Havering’s most shocking crimes in which a young man was left paralysed.
Dean Everett and his family say the identities of his attackers – a gang of five or six then aged in their mid-to-late teens – are an “open secret” among some people on the Hill.
Dean himself claims to have recognised two of those there that night, and he says that another was “named repeatedly” by members of the public but police do not have enough evidence to press charges.
The Everetts say:
- One suspect was aged about 16 at the time of the attack. He still lives in Harold Hill and has a conviction for assault.
- The second was a little older, aged about 18 at the time. He now lives in Essex.
- The third suspect was also aged about 18 at the time of the attack. A lot of people came forward to name him as one of the attackers, the family said. He lives in Harold Hill.
- The Everetts have also been told that some of the gang “boasted” about the attack afterwards.
- Another was said to have been afraid they “had killed someone”.
- At least one girl may have been involved, the family believe.
Detectives have said in the past they are confident there were witnesses to the attack, including a man in his 20s who watched from his front door.
While they continue to investigate, they have been consistently hampered by a wall of silence.
A BBC Crimewatch appeal, which aired the year after the attack, yielded two “significant” phone calls but ultimately no breakthrough.
Police hope the £10,000 reward for information will encourage people to come forward.
Dean Everett was just 20 years old when a gang of youths broke his neck during an unprovoked beating in Harold Hill.
Now, more than 12 years on, Dean remains wheelchair-bound and still seeking justice.
His family are confident they know the identities of those responsible for the vicious attack – back in September 2000 – and are urging those who can help to come forward.
Dean’s mother, Patricia Everett, issued this plea: “We know who did this. Everyone in Harold Hill knows who did this. These people are going about their lives as normal while my son’s life has been destroyed.
Det Supt Tony Bennett said: “We have always believed that the answer to this terrible assault lies within the community of Harold Hill.
“Someone – be it a current resident or someone who may have moved on – knows information that may lead to us solving this crime.
“Over 12 years has passed and those individuals may now have different associations/allegiances or have children of there own.
“It is important – not only to the investigation but to Dean and his family – that this case is brought to a suitable conclusion.”
He added: “The Metropolitan Police Service is offering a substantial reward of up to £10,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and prosecution of those responsible for the serious assault of Dean Everett.”
n Anyone with information can contact Det Con Matt Dennahy at Romford CID on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
“Dean should have a wife and child by now. People were there that night, someone saw this, and we need them to come forward.”
Dean had been walking home from Harold Hill Community Centre where he had been with friends.
He was just two minutes from his front door when a gang of youths pounced on him, destroying his life forever.
The beating he received was so savage that his attackers snapped his spine in two places, paralysing the aspiring mechanic from the neck down.
The then 20-year-old had no enemies but was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time – 11.25pm in Amersham Road on September 29, 2000.
Today Dean is still haunted by memories of the attack.
“I noticed a group behind me,” he said. “They called out to me and then surrounded me. One of them asked me a question – I can’t remember what – and I was punched in the face.
“When I woke up, I couldn’t move; I knew something was seriously wrong with me and I was screaming for an ambulance.”
What Dean doesn’t remember, before he was found by a passing cabbie, was that he had been kicked and stamped on some 50 times after that first punch.
Not only had his attackers damaged his spinal cord, but also caused severe face, head and chest injuries, and a dislocated shoulder.
It was touch and go for Dean, now 32, in the days after the attack.
His older sister, Paula, said: “In hospital, Dean was screaming out in agony; basically the nerves in his legs were dying and they were causing him so much pain. He went through hell for a long time.
“I remember spoon-feeding my brother – no-one should have to do that for their adult brother.”
Dean spent the next nine months at a specialist rehabilitation unit at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, Middlesex, before living for another year at Havering Court nursing home in Havering-atte-Bower.
Patricia said: “When he was well enough, the hospital got him a wheelchair; but I had to hide it behind a curtain because it upset him too much to look at it.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board refused Dean a payout for his injuries because the traumatised youth didn’t speak to police on the night of his attack.
A huge Recorder campaign – backed by the community, MPs, councillors and police – saw the board make a dramatic U-turn.
Doctors initially feared Dean would remain paralysed from the neck down but he defied their predictions to regain movement in his upper body.
He continues to make progress and hopes to walk again one day.
Dean said: “It kills me that the people who have done this to me are living normal lives, maybe with their own kids now. It doesn’t feel fair.”
Dean now lives elsewhere in Havering with his mother in a specially adapted bungalow where he relies on her for “almost everything”.
He is also looked after by carers who visit twice daily.
Patricia said: “I moved away from my home in Harold Hill. The day after the attack I had to walk past my son’s bloodstains on the pavement. The street itself held terrible memories of that night.
“I spend my life trying to get Dean his life back and help him become more independent. I can’t focus on anything else or have a life. I’m not going to be here forever and that worries me.
“I don’t know if those who did this realise what they did, but why should they get away with it and carry on their lives as normal?
“I help Dean as much as I can with his exercises. I don’t know if he will ever walk again – we will try all we can and we take it one day at a time.”
She added: “There’s always hope.”