A father from New Addington, John Hayward, made a plea on BBC Crimewatch Monday last night, 29 April, for any information that can lead to the arrest and prosecution of a gang of youths who attacked him and his son with baseball bats and metal poles about one and a half years ago. His son, Gary, 29, remains in a coma and requires full-time care in rehabilitation after the assault in October 2011 left him critically injured.
The Metropolitan Police in Croydon have backed the media push for new information with the announcement that a reward of £20,000 is on offer for any information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible. The family of Gary Hayward appeared on BBC Crimewatch in support of the appeal.
The attack happened on Central Parade, New Addington when the father and son were walking home to John Hayward’s flat in Chertsey Crescent, and is reconstructed in the appeal.
Police were called to the scene after reports of fighting. On arrival they found both men had been assaulted by around 20 youths bearing baseball bats and metal poles. John Hayward, 53 at the time, suffered a cut to the head but was discharged from hospital a few days later. But his son, and a father of three, Gary Hayward, sustained head injuries and was taken to hospital in a critical condition. After surgery, he has remained in a non-responsive condition and needs full-time care.
John told the local press at the end of 2011 that he had to play dead in order to avoid being killed and he found it very difficult to deal with the feelings of survivor’s guilt from an incident that left his son with catastrophic injuries.
Since the investigation started eighteen months ago, 4 men have been arrested under suspicion of grievous bodily harm, but all have since been released without charge.
Detective Inspector Simon Harding from Croydon Borough CID, who is leading the investigation said: “We believe that there are people that know the identity of those responsible for this assault”. He assured the public that all information would be treated with “the utmost confidentiality and sensitivity”.
Following Monday’s appeal the police have announced that they are encouraged by the number of calls they have received. Detective Inspector Simon Harding said: “We have been contacted by witnesses who hadn’t come forward previously and we have had names of suspects given to us.”
The New Addington Safer Neighbourhoods office on Central Parade will be open to members of the public this week, and local officers will be carrying out additional patrols and handing out appeal leaflets.