Family’s fury as Portsmouth schoolgirl, 9, is left with black eye after random man attacks her in the street
A YOUNG girl’s loved ones have spoken of their fury after a random man slapped her in the street – leaving her with a black eye.
Tia Gash, nine, cried when a thug struck her face as she cycled home with a pal from Fernhurst Junior School along Goldsmith Avenue on Wednesday.
The youngster stopped on the path close to Orchard Park when the man approached from behind and whacked her, before quickly walking off in the direction of Fratton Bridge.
The blow knocked Tia’s earring out and after drying her tears she sped to back to her Somers Town home to be with her family.
Her mum, Helen, was enraged when she found out what happened.
‘I’m fuming that someone could do that to a nine-year-old child in broad daylight in the middle of a built-up area,' the 41-year-old said.
‘It must’ve been some slap to cause the bruise on her face and it makes me angry and upset when I see it because I know a grown adult has done that to my daughter.'
As her face began to swell Tia’s parents took her to St Mary’s Hospital, where she was recommended paracetamol, before launching an appeal for witnesses on Facebook.
The message has been shared more than 3,000 times and Hampshire police have confirmed they are investigating the incident.
Tia did not go to school on Thursday and her parents have vowed to walk to and from home with her in the future in a bid to restore her confidence.
Recalling the moment she was hit, she said: ‘It really hurt. At the time I didn’t want to say anything because I was scared he would do something else.
‘Until he did it I didn't know he was there.’
Fernhurst Primary School headteacher, Roberta Kirby, has condemned the attack.
She said: ‘This is extremely worrying. Pupils should feel safe to walk to and from school unharmed and I urge anybody who knows anything, or sees anything, that threatens children to report it immediately to the police.’
Tia’s dad Matt, a Royal Navy veteran, now holds out hope the man who hurt his daughter could be hunted down by police.
‘I’m hoping the community can come together with Facebook and all other options to help find this person,’ the 43-year-old said.
‘It’s not just down to the police force, it’s down to us as a community to share things like this and work together to make our town safe.’
Tia has described her attacker to be 5ft 6in tall, in his 30s or 40s, with a ‘Middle-Eastern’ complexion.
She said he was wearing a blue top with blue jeans and was accompanied by a woman, who was wearing a pink top.
The woman allegedly apologised and hit the man after he struck Tia.
Anyone with information should call police on 101, quoting the crime reference number 44190106410.