Two attacks at churches sees 72-year-old hurt and 50-year old threatened with golf clubs

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A CONGREGATION has been rocked after an unprovoked attack on one of their members in the church car park.

An elderly volunteer at St Mary’s Church, in Fratton Road, Fratton, was struck from behind, punched to the ground and then repeatedly hit as he helped people attending a concert on Thursday to park in the church car park.

Father Bob White said the 72-year-old victim was left shaken and that he was recovering from the attack, which left him with bloody nose, a swollen and cut lip and swelling and bruising to his forehead. He encouraged anyone with information to come forward.

Father White said: ‘The chap was assaulted by another for no reason in the churchyard. It has come as a shock to everybody. He’s recovering but thankfully he was not left with any serious injuries. We want to see what we can find out as we are all shocked by it and concerned for the person who was assaulted.’

After the attack, the suspect walked away towards Fratton Road.

The suspect was white, in his late 20s or early 30s, 6ft and slim. He had a dark complexion and spoke with a local accent. At the time he wore a dark jacket, dark trousers and a black ‘beanie’ hat.

PC Adam Ives said: ‘This was a horrific, unprovoked attack on an elderly man, in a quiet area of church grounds. Fortunately this type of incident is not common; however I would advise people to be alert, not alarmed, and to, where possible, avoid walking through dark or secluded areas alone.

‘I would like to hear from anyone who may have witnessed this incident, or recognises the suspect from the description.’

The assault took place between 6.15pm and 6.30pm. Anyone who knows about the incident can call police on 101, quoting 44160020718.

Father White said the church would be reviewing its security.

He said: ‘We will be looking at what happened and talking with the police to see if there’s anything that we can do to address it. It was an unusual event.’

Also, in a separate incident, two men were arrested for an alleged attack on a man at a church hall next to St Michael and All Angels Church, in Dunsbury Way, Havant.

On Wednesday at about 12.30pm, it is alleged three men went in to the hall, while a group was meeting, and attempted to hit a 50-year-old man with golf clubs and threw crockery at him, which hit him on the arm. He was not injured and the men left the church when police were called.

Fr Gerard Flynn said that the incident was not connected to the church, and a police spokesman said it was believed to be a targeted attack. Anyone with information about that assault is asked to call police on 101, quoting 44160018659.

n A 33-year-old man and a 34-year-old, both from Liverpool, have been arrested on suspicion of threats to kill after the Havant incident. They have been bailed until April 5.