Last updated at 12:43 PM on 14th June 2011
Woman 'attacked after cousin spilt £2.80 drink'
Mother paralysed from chest down after attack
A mother-of-one has been left paralysed after an apparently unprovoked pub attack over a spilt drink.
Claire Hilton suffered a broken neck and back after she was allegedly attacked moments after an argument outside the Wheatsheaf pub in West Boldon, South Tyneside.
Telesales worker Miss Hilton, 28, was punched and kicked after her cousin accidentally knocked a £2.80 drink off a pub table.
'Party girl': Claire Hilton, pictured right, with friend Joanna Teasdale, is 'full of fun' according to her devastated father Paddy, 56
The row started at the Wheatsheaf Pub in South Tyneside after Miss Hilton's cousin knocked a £2.80 drink off a pub table
During the alleged attack in the
early hours of Saturday morning, Miss Hilton fell on a wall and broke
her neck, leaving her yelling desperately: 'I can't move my legs. I'm
The row had started after Miss Hilton's cousin, Lauren Mould, 19, had accidentally knocked over a drink with her bag.
Miss Mould reportedly apologised and an argument broke out, but she left.
Hilton who is said not to have been involved in the original argument over the
drink, but was allegedly set upon along with Miss Mould as they walked
Claire, at the age of 16. She suffered a broken back and neck after falling against a dry stone wall when she was beaten to the floor and kicked in the stomach 200 yards from her home
Miss Hilton suffered a broken back and neck after falling against a dry stone wall when she was beaten to the floor and kicked in the stomach 200 yards from her home.
Describing the moment she rushed to the scene of the attack, Miss Hilton's sister Sam, 24, told the Daily Mirror: 'She was shouting at me, "I am paralysed, I am paralysed, I cannot move".
'It was terrible, she knew straight away what had happened to her.
was punched and banged her head off the wall. She was then kicked as
she hit the ground with such force that she banged her head again, and
she thinks that's what left her paralysed.'
Miss Hilton, who has an 11-year-old son Callum with partner Dieter Turgoose, 35, is a former Boldon Comprehensive pupil from West Boldon, South Tyneside.
Mr Turgoose, as well as Miss Hilton's friends Hugh Anderson and Christine McCormack, all from West Boldon, suffered minor injuries.
Miss Hilton was rushed to South Tyneside District Hospital where surgeons inserted plates around her injured spine.
But hours later doctors had to tell her parents Paddy, 56, and Janice, 52, she was paralysed from the neck down and may never recover.
A source close to the case said: 'This is an horrific attack which has left a young woman paralysed.
'Doctors believe it will be permanent. As you can imagine, the victim's family are angry and devastated.
'It's a very close-knit community and everyone is still in shock.
'Claire is a beautiful young lady who has her whole life ahead of her. It's such a tragedy.
'We believe an argument started in the pub over a spilt drink, and this argument continued outside.
'It is alleged that she was punched five times and her body went completely numb after the first punch. The truth is this came very close to being a murder investigation.'
Three people appeared in court yesterday in connection with the attack.
Christopher Towers, 24, of Boldon Colliery, is charged with grievous bodily harm with intent, two counts of actual bodily harm, one count of common assault and affray.
His girlfriend Kelly McKone, 29, of Jarrow, and Lynn Margaret Flaherty, 46, of Boldon Colliery, thought to be the mother of Towers, are also charged with grievous bodily harm and affray.
The three appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court, where they were bailed to a later date.
A police spokesman said: 'At 12.31am on Saturday, June 11, police received reports of a disturbance outside the Wheatsheaf public house on St Nicholas Road in West Boldon.
'When police arrived they found a number of injured people, one of whom, a 28-year-old woman, was taken to South Tyneside General Hospital for treatment to a back injury.
'Officers conducted enquiries and a number of arrests were made.'
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