A DEAF Sunderland AFC fan was pinned against a wall and beaten across the head with a metal pipe during a brutal daylight assault.
Thomas Long was on his way to meet pals when two masked boys, believed to be teenagers, attacked him from behind.
They held 16-year-old Thomas, who is profoundly deaf and has learning difficulties, against a wall before assaulting him with the pipe.
But a good Samaritan who witnessed the attack came to Thomas’s rescue, and drove him to the home he shares with his dad Wayne who is his full-time carer.
The avid Black Cats supporter was taken to hospital where he was treated for cuts and bruising to his face.
The attack left Thomas, a student at East Durham College, with further hearing problems as it caused the cochlear implant he has to stop working.
“It’s knocked my confidence a lot,” said Thomas. “And I won’t be going out of the house alone again for a long time.
“It all happened so quickly that it’s difficult to know what went on.
“They came at me from behind and laid into me. It was awful.”
Mr Long, 40, said: “He was in a bad way and was really, really upset about it.
“When he first pulled up outside the house, I presumed it was his friend’s dad dropping him off.
“It wasn’t until I saw the blood dripping off his face that I realised something was the matter.
“I went outside and spoke to the driver, who said he’d seen two lads who had Thomas against a wall and were hitting him with a metal pipe.
“I was absolutely devastated when he came back. I just can’t stop thinking about how far it would have gone if someone hadn’t stepped in.
“He did nothing wrong and doesn’t deserve this at all.”
Mr Long, of Parkside Crescent, Seaham, said he was able to thank the mystery driver, but before he thought to get details he had driven off.
Now Mr Long and detectives investigating the attack are hoping to trace the man, who they believe holds key clues to the thugs behind the assault, which took place in the Parkside area on Saturday at about 12.30pm.
A Durham Police spokeswoman said: “This young man appears to have been the victim of a totally unprovoked, sustained assault.
“We would urge the driver who brought the victim home in his car to contact police, as we believe he has information that could help us to trace those responsible.”
The man who drove Thomas home, or anyone else with any information, is asked to phone police on 0345 60 60 365 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.