HIS attacker may be behind bars for his crime, but the situation for Mo Bourner, victim of a vicious assault in Bexhill 16 months ago, has scarcely been much better.
And while soldier Ashley Dacosta will one day walk free from prison, the effects of the grievous bodily harm he inflicted on Mo, now 17, continue to be a life sentence for the mixed-race youth and his family.
Hooe farmer Peter Bourner, and his fiancee, Melanie, spoke exclusively to the Observer this week about the changes wrought on Mo since he suffered 90 per cent brain damage when attacked on De La Warr Parade, Bexhill, after a beach party on October 28, 2011, while still just 15.
Peter said: “People probably don’t know that Mo has himself spent the past six months under secure conditions at St Andrew’s Rehabilitation Centre for Adolescents with Acquired Brain Injuries in Northampton.
“And we almost lost him again on Christmas Eve when he was rushed to Northampton General Hospital for an emergency operation.
“A titanium plate inserted in his skull following life-saving surgery had turned septic and had to be removed, but Mo’s condition was so bad that experts from three hospitals were conferring minute-by-minute on the best way to treat him.”
Mel added: “The hole in Mo’s head left by the initial surgery is the size of a mango and when the plate came out it was an inch-thick in pus. His head had swollen to almost twice its normal size.”
Aside from the pain he has endured, Mo has also suffered from pyschological problems caused by the attack, hence the regime he has been kept under at St Andrew’s.
Peter said: “He is still paralysed down his left side and is feeling the frustrations of being unable to go out, to meet girls, to build a career, to learn to drive and to do all the things a teenager should be doing.
“He gets angry and depressed at what has happened to him, and the aim at present is to contain that anger and to effectively rebuild his whole outlook into something more positive.”
Consequently Mo is being denied access to social websites, is not allowed a mobile phone, cannot go out and sees only close family members.
Peter said: “We’re still on a roller-coaster with him and probably will be for years, but there are signs that he is at last turning this particular corner.
“Being physically disabled - no longer a BMX champion or helping me on the farm - means he has become more cerebral, and he has produced some incredible poetry.
“In some ways he’s woken up a wise old man.”
Peter added: “Mo is also determined to do what he can to help others who have, like him, been victims of racism and violence. He wants to make a difference with his life.”
Both Peter and Mel again expressed their heartfelt gratitude for the ongoing care and generosity shown by the local community. “They’ve been absolutely fabulous,“ said Peter.