For 11 days Leighton Fletcher’s life hung in the balance.
Christmas and New Year went past in a flash but the Dundee teenager remained in a coma following a savage beating.
For all that time the 17-year-old’s family had no idea if they would be asked to switch off the life support equipment that was keeping him alive.
As he clung on to life in Ninewells Hospital following the brutal attack at the hands of two 15-year old boys, Leighton’s mum Susan and other family members kept a round the clock vigil at his bedside.
Now, 18 months later, as his physical scars have begun to heal Leighton, 19, and Susan, 41, have spoken for the first time about the attack they both know could have cost him his life.
The two boys responsible, who cannot be named due to their age, were sentenced yesterday.
One was sentenced to a year of supervision by Sheriff Alastair Carmichael and the other referred to the children’s panel for sentencing at a later date.
Leighton said he is now looking forward and wants to get on with his life.
He said: “I want to get on and live life to the full like anyone else my age. I’ve never given the emotional impact of what happened a second thought and my physical scars are healing.”
Leighton was rushed to Ninewells Hospital after being found by a taxi driver in Adelaide Place, in the Dudhope area of the city, early on the morning of December 23 2017.
He was left with catastrophic injuries, including a fractured skull which had been moved two millimetres out of place, such was the force of the kicking he received.
Every bone in his face was broken and his vocal chords were damaged to the extent that he had to have a tracheotomy.
Eventually, in January, and much to the delight of his family, Leighton opened his eyes and just two weeks after the attack he was moved out of intensive care into the hospital’s high dependency unit.
Leighton said: “I have absolutely no memory of that time at all.
“My mind has blanked it out – however I’m under no illusions that I almost died.
“The first I remember is it being halfway through January and I was in hospital.
“The last thing I remember before the attack was being in Fintry, close to home, and meeting mum at the shops and her telling me I couldn’t have any more money and not to leave Fintry. I’ve no idea what happened after that.”
Somehow later that night Leighton ended up in Adelaide Place, close to the Law.
Susan said: “When I met him on the evening of December 23 he was with friends and happy. He asked for money, which I wouldn’t give him and then told him not to leave the area. I thought he would be home later that night.
“However, I couldn’t sleep and I was aware he wasn’t coming home.
“I finally fell asleep at 5am and when I woke up at 10am I was very worried to find Leighton still hadn’t come home.”
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Susan’s worst fears were realised later that morning when CID arrived at her door with the news she had been dreading.
She says the days that followed were the worst of her life.
Susan added: “I sat at my son’s bedside terrified he was going to die, not knowing if I would be asked to switch off the equipment that was keeping him alive.”
However, with a quiet but steely determination Leighton has fought back.
“Those boys didn’t beat me,” he said.
“I’m still alive and I’m looking forward to the future. I’m training to be an electrician and I’m hoping to be allowed to start driving lessons soon.”