Woman left paralysed after alleged attack

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THE Sunderland family of a woman allegedly attacked over a spilt drink has spoken of their anguish that she may never walk again.

Claire Hilton suffered a broken neck and severe spinal injuries when she was beaten in Rectory Bank, West Boldon, leaving her paralysed from the chest down.

The attack happened soon after the 28-year-old had left the Wheatsheaf pub where she had been drinking earlier with her partner of 14 years, Dieter Turgoose and friends.

The victim was taken to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough where, yesterday, the former Boldon Comprehensive School pupil underwent an operation which revealed her spinal cord had not been severed.

The news gave her devastated family a glimmer of hope that she may recover some feeling in her body. However, they know the chances of her walking again are “very slim.”

“Claire is absolutely devastated,” said her younger sister Sam Hilton, of Red House.

“On the Saturday she had no feeling in her body from the chest down and was told by the doctors she would be paralysed.

“She was so upset saying she would rather be dead than live this way. It has devastated our family.

“Her son Callum is only 11 but he knows what has happened and that his mam may be paralysed. But he’s told us it doesn’t matter because she was alive and she’s still his mum and that’s all that matters to him.”

It was originally thought the mum-of-one’s spinal cord had been severed when she was repeatedly punched by her attacker at around 12.30am on Saturday.

It is alleged the assault followed an earlier argument in the pub over a spilt drink as the group made their way home.

•Three people will appear at crown court after being charged in connection to the incident.

Christopher Towers, 24, of no fixed abode, faces three counts of assault and one charge of affray.

Lynn Margaret Flaherty, 46, of New Road, Boldon, and Kelly McKone, 30, of Stanhope Road, Jarrow, both face charges of assault and affray.

All three appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday for a trial date to be set. They were all released on bail, and will appear at Newcastle Crown Court on June 27.