Gosport attack survivor is ‘existing - he’s not living’

Andrew Toseland pictured at Peartree House Rehabilitation Centre
Andrew Toseland pictured at Peartree House Rehabilitation Centre
A CCTV image of the charity box thief

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The twin sister of a man left needing round-the-clock care following a brutal attack said of her brother: ‘He’s existing – he’s not living.’

Andrew Toseland, 51, suffered a severe brain injury in a late-night attack. He was set upon when he and his brother Robert asked a gang of youths to be quiet outside 79-year-old mum Nina’s flat.

Samuel Armstrong, 19, stamped on Mr Toseland’s head up to 15 times in the assault at Garland Court in Forton Road, Gosport, on August 25 last year.

Mr Toseland was in an induced coma for two months and now needs 24-hour care.

His attacker Armstrong, of Sherwood Road, Gosport, was jailed for five years and four months at Portsmouth Crown Court on September 6 after admitting causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

But after Mr Toseland’s family and Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage were featured on the front page of The News calling for the sentence to be increased, the jail term was yesterday quashed in the Court of Appeal and replaced with a nine-year sentence.

Mr Toseland’s sister Michelle, Yates, 51, told The News: ‘We’re glad the sentence has been increased.

‘I think the sentence now actually goes some way to reflecting the crime committed.

‘But ultimately it won’t make any difference to what we have been left with as a family and what Andrew has to deal with day-to-day, and everybody else that cares for him.

‘As time goes on the chance of any significant progress diminishes. With what happened we know the chance of any significant progress is very slim.’

Mrs Yates added: ‘He’s completely different. His short-term memory is non-existent.

‘When we go to visit him he asks 50 times who we are.

‘We tell him where he is, a minute later he’s asking again.

‘He’s existing, he’s not living. It’s difficult.’

The Court of Appeal heard how Mr Toseland now cannot speak, eat, drink, walk or sit unaided.

The court also heard how Armstrong, who has previous convictions for 19 offences, had been drinking and taking illegal drug ecstasy on the night he set upon Mr Toseland.

After the attack Armstrong could be clearly heard on an answer phone message saying of Mr Toseland: ‘It was some old guy. I left him for dead, some old man.’

He added: ‘I killed that bloke’s head.’

The court heard factors taken into account including Armstrong’s low self esteem, and reports revealing he had an IQ of 79.

He was not judged to have a learning disability but his maturity level was described as being of ‘middle adolescence.’

Mrs Yates’ husband Steve, 51, said of his brother-in-law: ‘The first two months he was in a vegetative state in Southampton General Hospital.

‘It still burns in the back of my mind the amount of times the consultant came to us and said “he’s got less than a 50 per cent chance of survival”.

‘It’s lucky he didn’t die from his injuries.

‘Obviously he did make good progress shortly after that but we had to live with the fact that he might die from it.’

Mr Yates added: ‘He could have died but he actually made good progress.

‘He fought it. He’s got to the state where he is now which is not nice for the family to see in that way, but he’s alive. We can, in a small way, communicate with him. It’s just not nice seeing him in a bed or wheelchair permanently.

‘He’s not the person he was.’

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