SUTTON: Family and Friends Of Man Left Paralysed By Knife Attack Raise Funds For Spinal Charities

PUBLISHED: 08:00 30 April 2009 | UPDATED: 10:51 04 May 2010

Oliver Hemsley

Oliver Hemsley

THE family and friends of a Sutton man left paralysed after a horrific and mindless knife attack are raising money for two spinal injuries charities. 21-year-old Oliver Hemsley, from Sutton, was left fighting for his life after a vicious and unprovoked at

THE family and friends of a Sutton man left paralysed after a horrific and mindless knife attack are raising money for two spinal injuries charities.

21-year-old Oliver Hemsley, from Sutton, was left fighting for his life after a vicious and unprovoked attack which happened in Shoreditch, East London, last year.

Just hours before the stabbing incident, which a judge said made his blood run cold, Oliver's older brother William, and friends Nick McClelland and Jon Hughes, were planning a cycling challenge across Europe to raise money for charity. At the time, they didn't realise the effect that a tragic twist of fate would have on their plans.

Nick, 27, who has been friends with William for 10 years, said they had their fund-raising idea "a matter of hours" before the near-fatal attack on his friend's brother.

He explained: "That evening we had been sat in a local pub, discussing doing some sort of challenge. Three hours later, at 11pm, we were in Will's front room, having a glass of wine, when his sister called to tell him what had happened. It sent us running across London to get to the hospital.

"It was scary. One minute we were so happy, having decided to do this challenge, the next...

"We were going to see how the idea panned out before we decided on charities but the next day, after Will had been in the hospital for six hours, he said 'we said we are going to do it for Oli'."

Oliver, known as Oli, had been studying fashion at the renowned Central St Martin's School of Art and was walking to a local off-licence with a friend when he was set upon by a gang of Asian youths.

Following the attack on Oli, a schoolboy was charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent.

Nazrul Islam, 16, of Swanfield Street, Upton Park, pleaded guilty to the charge, and another of robbing a 12-year-old girl, when he appeared at The Old Bailey last week.

The court heard that Islam was just 15 when he carried out what the judge described as "an entirely motiveless and mindless attack".

He added: "Its ferocity makes my blood run cold."

Islam was jailed for 10 years and the judge lifted the usual reporting restrictions on the naming of youths in court, ordering that Islam be "named and shamed".

Oli's mum Jenny said the sentencing had closed a dark chapter on her family's life.

She said: "The sentencing took a long time to come around. It was originally due on January 3 but it got deferred six times.

"We are pleased with the outcome - it was the maximum sentence possible and we would have been really upset if it was anything less. Obviously, we do not think it is tough enough. As Will said in his speech outside court, Islam got 10 years, Oli got a life sentence. That's the difference."

She said that despite everything he had been through, Oli plans to finish his university studies.

Mrs Hemsley added: "He is doing really well. He is very positive and we are looking for a flat for him in London so he can live independently."

She continued: "He will always be in a wheelchair but we are hoping that he will regain as much movement as possible. He wants to go back to university and his place has been deferred. At the moment, he probably needs more time adjusting to living and that is why he is staying in London."

Oli has an older sister Anya, 27, and a brother Tom, 22, as well as Will.

Mrs Hemsley described her family as "fantastic" and said they had received a lot of support from the community.

"The support we have received has been brilliant. We don't want to talk about it all the time but people have helped us out in all sorts of ways - cooking us dinner and doing the things we couldn't always do when we were travelling to London everyday."

There are now 25 people taking part in the epic ride, called Ride2Recovery which will cover 600 miles in just six days, spanning three countries and two mountain ranges.

A message of support has been left on the event's website by Mark Beaumont, who circumnavigated the world on a bicycle last year.

As well as meeting their £50,000-target, Will and his friends are hoping that the event will raise awareness of the growing problem of knife crime in the UK.

Villagers are organising a Ceilidh and Mrs Hemsley is planning a fund-raising barbecue and an auction of promises.

Oli's university friends are also holding an art exhibition in Shoreditch called Art Against Knives.

INFO: To find out more or to make a donation, visit www.ride2recovery.co.uk

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