‘He broke my neck, now he’s out’ – paralysed mum furious at attacker’s release

Paralysed young mum Claire Hilton arrives at Newcastle Crown Court
Paralysed young mum Claire Hilton arrives at Newcastle Crown Court
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A WOMAN paralysed in an assault over a spilt drink today spoke of her horror after she logged on to Facebook and discovered her attacker was out of prison.

Christopher Towers was jailed for three and a half years last January after he broke Claire Hilton’s neck with a single punch.

Christopher Towers

Christopher Towers

But the mother-of-one, now 30, was sickened when little over 12 months later, a half-naked picture of her attacker was posted on Facebook.

Beneath was a comment which read: “Finally, with my boy.”

Claire believes the picture was posted by Towers’ girlfriend Kelly McKone who was also involved in the attack which left her paralysed.

Distraught, she contacted police who told her Towers, 25, had been on weekend licence from jail when the picture appeared on April 5.

The officer said Towers was due to be released imminently, and that as part of his preparation he would be spending a weekend on the outside every 28 days.

Claire, of Sunderland, said: “When I saw the picture, I felt sick to my stomach.

“With him and I living in the same area, we have friends in common. Obviously, I am not friends with him on Facebook, but worried friends were sending his picture to my Facebook inbox and to my phone.

“I couldn’t believe that no one from the police or probation had warned me.”

Claire had been on a night out with friends at the Wheatsheaf pub in West Boldon when trouble flared over a drink which had been knocked over and marked Towers’ mum’s dress.

The friends offered to buy his mum Lynn Flaherty, 47, another drink, but she, Towers and his girlfriend Kelly McKone flew into a rage.

They were eventually ordered out of the pub, but waited outside until Claire and her friends left.

McKone, 31, hit Claire, and Flaherty slapped one of her friends before Towers ran over and punched her full force to the left side of her face. Claire was rushed to hospital where she spent 12 days in a coma.

She was told she had broken three bones in her neck and severely damaged her spinal cord.

Now, two years after the attack, Claire is still paralysed and says that if it wasn’t for her little boy Callum, 13, she would not want to live.

Where once she led an active life, with friends describing her as the “life and soul of the party”, she now relies on carers to get through the day.

She said: “Doctors have told me I will never walk again. I used to love my life, now all I have is Callum.”

Jailing Towers at Newcastle Crown Court last year, Recorder John Aitken told him: “This was an ill-tempered and drunken dispute over next to nothing.”

Claire had been expecting Towers to be released at the end of this year and had been “bracing herself” even for that.

She added: “Christopher Towers ruined my life, and the fact that he will be out soon makes me livid. It makes me feel sick. Is just over a year all my life is worth?”