Blind Bishop's Stortford pensioner out walking with his guide dog punched in the face in row with van driver parked on pavement
The family of a 73-year-old blind man who was punched in the face while out walking in Bishop’s Stortford with his guide dog say the attack has left him “petrified” to go out.
Tony Webb was struck three times during an altercation with a van driver whose vehicle was blocking the pavement in Hockerill Street.
He was left “very shaken” and with a black eye after the attack on Sunday between 8.45am and 9am.
His daughter, Tracy Hassell, posted images of her father’s injuries on social media soon after the incident – as of 5.30pm on Wednesday (March 11), it has been shared 30,000 times and generated almost 9,000 comments. She said her father was recovering at home after being discharged from hospital.
An online appeal set up by the family for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association stands at £1,098.
Mrs Hassell said her father, who can see some light and dark, was taking his guide dog Sammy for a stroll when the incident happened.
She wrote on Facebook on Sunday: “My blind dad was attacked in Bishop’s Stortford town centre this morning at 9am by a man who was parked on the pavement in a white van.”
She later told the BBC: “Dad asked the driver if he would move so he and Sammy could get past, but the man said ‘No’. Dad asked him again and said it was out of order to park on the pavement, and the next thing he knew he was pushed up against the van. He thinks he was punched three times in his eye.
“The man even told my father he didn’t believe he was blind.”
Mrs Hassell said her father had tried to take Sammy for a walk early on Monday “but he didn’t get far – he said he was absolutely petrified there might be someone behind him”.
She thanked the public for their support: “My family are overwhelmed with the response and thank you for your support and kind words. I will make sure I read all your comments to Dad. Thank you again.”
A spokesman for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association said the charity was “appalled” by the attack on Mr Webb.
“We have been in touch with him to ensure that he and his guide dog are both OK and will continue to support them in any way we can,” he said.
PC Luke Collyer, of Hertfordshire police, who is investigating the incident, said: “We are speaking with both men involved to establish the circumstances of the incident, but we are keen to also hear from any witnesses or anyone with information about what happened.
“Were you in the area at the time? Did you see what happened? Any information, no matter how small it might seem, could be vital to the investigation.”
If you can help, call non-emergency number 101 or email email@example.com, quoting crime reference 41/20944/20. You can also report information online at herts.police.uk/report or speak to an operator in the force communications room online at herts.police.uk/contact.
Alternatively, you can stay 100% anonymous by calling independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or visiting its untraceable online form at crimestoppers-uk.org.