A Wolverhampton student with learning difficulties, who had his bag set on fire after being attacked on his way home from college, is now looking to the future after an unexpected gift from a stranger.
Brandon was walking through Northwood Park in June when he was set upon by two youths, who punched and kicked him before setting light to his bag, which contained all his coursework. The assault left the 20-year-old with a broken jaw and a fractured eye socket.
An appeal to find those responsible caught the eye of a woman more than 90 miles away. Sitting in her kitchen in Oxford with her son, Denise was appalled at what she was reading: “It made me quite cross really and I wanted to do something about it,” she said.
Denise added: “I’m a mum and I can only imagine how horrendous this must have been for him and his family. I was going to offer a reward but I changed my mind and thought that maybe I could help counter-act this terrible assault with something positive.”
So, Denise went to a local stationer and bought pens, folders, notepads, memory sticks and a new bag for Brandon. “I just wanted to show him that not everybody is bad and hopefully he won’t be so scared when he goes back to college in the autumn,” said Denise.
She parcelled up the items and put them in the post where they were received by Detective Sergeant Carl Russell at Wednesfield police station.
Det Sgt Russell said: “We often get people offering money as a reward for to find those responsible, but for someone to go out of their way and take the time to select such a large amount of items for someone they don’t even know is a truly remarkable act of kindness.”
Yesterday (20 August), Det Sgt Russell handed over Denise’s donation to Brandon and his mum Corina at their home in Bushbury.
Brandon, who is studying countryside management at Rodbaston College, said: “My old bag, the one that got burnt, had all my coursework in it - everything that I’d been working on since the start of the year.
“The college have been really good about it all though and gave me extra time to finish my studies.
“I was really shocked and taken aback when I found out about Denise’s donation. I’m planning on going back to college in September and I’m looking to do an apprenticeship working with animals, so everything in the box will be really useful for my future studies.”
Brandon’s mum Corina said things have not been easy since the assault. Brandon needed an operation to insert metal wiring into his jaw and surgery to repair his eye socket.
She said: “It’s going to take a long time for him to get his confidence back. He’s still in a lot of pain and we don’t know how much movement he’ll get back in his mouth, but we’re hopeful he’ll make a full recovery.
“We’d really like to thank Denise for her gift and for replacing what was destroyed. We’d also like to thank the public for all their help and for coming forward with information about Brandon’s assault.”
Reflecting on the donation, Det Sgt Russell added: “I would also like to thank Denise for the items she has given to Brandon and for her civic mindedness.
“While it does not make up for what happened to Brandon, I hope this kind act will go some way to alleviating the pain of this senseless and cowardly attack."
The investigation into Brandon’s assault remains ongoing. A 16-year-old boy arrested on 21 July in connection with the assault was released on police bail pending further inquiries.