The X-ray that shows a five-inch knife wedged into a teenager's skull... and he survived

This harrowing picture shows an X-ray of a 15-year-old boy's skull after a five inch knife was plunged into his head.

Amazingly the teenager survived the stabbing and ten months on from the attack has enrolled in college.

The boy and two other youngsters were attacked when they tried to stop a friend being robbed at a bus stop in Walworth, south London.

The muggers responded by using a kitchen knife to stab one of the boys in the forehead, another twice in the back and a third in the shoulder.

He survived because he was rushed to hospital with the knife still sticking out of his head and doctors managed to operate in time.

X-rays released by police show how deep the knife penetrated, while still missing the boy's brain. Surgeons said if anyone had tried to take it out he would have died.

The boy's two friends also recovered after the attack outside Tesco in the Old Kent Road on 28 November.

One of the muggers dropped a hat and his mobile at the scene and was arrested later at his home.

The boy, 17, was found guilty at Inner London Crown Court last week of attempted murder and two counts of GBH with intent.

He will be sentenced next month. Officers are still hunting the other two attackers.

Meanwhile, a 27-year-old man is in a serious condition after being stabbed repeatedly in Dudden Hill Lane in Willesden early today.

The moment a grey heron catches a baby rabbit by the ears, drowns it, then swallows the thing whole

These amazing pictures show how cruel nature can sometimes be as a grey heron snacks on a rabbit.

Herons mainly eat fish but will also take birds and small mammals. This one was searching for a meal when it spotted the baby rabbit emerging from a hole.

Swooping down it grabbed its prey by the ears, took it to water and drowned it - then swallowed the rabbit whole.

Wildlife photographer Ad Sprang captured the dramatic images in Vianen, Holland.

'I was trying to get some nice shots of this grey heron,' said the 56-year-old Dutchman.

'After taking several shots, a little rabbit appeared out of a hole.

'The heron was interested in it and slowly approached the little rabbit. You could feel the tension.'

Obviously hungry, the adult bird, which averages about 100cm (3ft) in height and has a 1.95m (6ft) wingspan, made its move.

'In a split second, the bird caught the rabbit,' said Sprang. 'I managed to take two photos and the bird flew away with its food in its bill.'

Sprang followed the bird by car. He added: 'It landed in some water and I took several photos of the rest of the story.

'I have often seen herons catching prey like mice and fish but catching a rabbit was a surprise.'

In the Netherlands, the grey heron has become very common and has moved into urban environments in great numbers.

There, the herons hunt as they usually would but also make use of food discarded by humans and even visit zoos at feeding times.

Hundreds of people dressed as gorillas go on charity race through London

Hundreds of people dressed as gorillas went ape during a charity race to raise money for endangered animals today.

The sixth annual 7km Great Gorilla Run started and finished at the London Underwriting Centre, off Mincing Lane, this morning.

About 750 runners joined in the monkey business - setting a world record for the largest ever gathering of people wearing gorilla costumes.

The event was staged by The Gorilla Organisation, a charity which protects the endangered species in central African rainforests.

Jillian Miller, The Gorilla Organisation director, said: "The event has got better every year and the atmosphere among the runners and spectators is incredible. We hope to raise £200,000."

Conservationist and TV star Bill Oddie fired the starting pistol to set off the runners and handed medals to everyone who finished.

He said: "It is great that people are prepared to put so much effort into something so worthy, while maintaining such good humour."

Race winner James Burton, 25, an account manager from Balham, south London, said: "I run regularly but it was much harder wearing the hot and heavy gorilla costume."

Inside the £800m Dubai hotel boasting a £13,000-a-night suite and dolphins flown in from the South Pacific

It's the latest word in Gulf excess - a sprawling £800million resort boasting a £13,000-a-night suite and dolphins flown in from the South Pacific, all atop a palm tree-shaped island.

Environmentalists have long criticised both the island and some of the features of the Atlantis hotel, set to open tomorrow.

Analysts wonder, separately, if global financial turmoil could someday crimp Dubai's big tourist dreams.

But Dubai is not blinking: the 113-acre resort on an artificial island off the Persian Gulf coast is among the city-state's biggest bets that tourism can help sustain its economy once regional oil profits stop flowing.

'You don't build a billion-and-a-half dollar project just anywhere in the world,' said Alan Leibman, president and managing director of Kerzner International, the hotel operator that teamed with Dubai developer Nakheel on the resort.

With its own oil reserves running dry, Dubai hopes to woo those eager to make money and those who know how to spend it - even as much of the global economy sours.

For years, the emirate - one of seven semi-independent states that make up the United Arab Emirates - has been feverishly building skyscrapers and luxury hotels.

A key piece of the strategy has been to cultivate an image in the West as a sun-kissed tourist destination despite its soaring summer heat, conservative Muslim society and relative dearth of historic sites.

Fueling the interest are belief-defying projects such as an indoor ski slope, the as-yet-incomplete world's tallest skyscraper and a growing archipelago of man-made islands such as the Palm Jumeirah - the smallest of three such projects planned.

Much of the focus at Atlantis, modeled on a sister resort in the Bahamas, is on ocean-themed family entertainment.

The resort contains a giant open-air tank with 65,000 fish, stingrays and other sea creatures and a dolphinarium with more than two dozen bottlenose dolphins flown in, amid controversy, from the Solomon Islands.

But the hotel's top floor aims squarely at the ultra-wealthy. A three-bedroom, three-bathroom suite complete with gold-leaf 18-seat dining table is on offer for £13,000 a night.

Dubai's development has long been criticized by environmental activists, who say the construction of artificial islands hurts coral reefs and even shifts water currents. They point to growing water and power consumption.

Last year, environmental groups and some residents of the Solomon Islands protested the decision to sell the dolphins, plus the 30-hour plane flight needed to get them to Dubai.

Developers seem undaunted. For the moment, the resort shares the sprawling island only with rows of high-end houses and construction sites. But other international names are set to move in.

Donald Trump plans to open a hotel straddling the center of the palm, and the storied QE2 ocean liner will become a hotel and a tourist attraction docked alongside the island tree's 'trunk'.

An 1,800-seat theater nearby will house a permanent Cirque du Soleil show beginning in summer 2011.

'Palm Jumeirah in and of itself will become one of Dubai's major tourist attractions,' said Joe Cita, chief executive of Nakheel's hotel division.

Boosting the number of attractions on the island will not only entice more visitors, he said, but also persuade them to spend more time and money in the city.

By 2010, Dubai aims to attract a staggering 10 million hotel visitors annually, up from about 7 million in 2007. Atlantis alone will increase the city's hotel capacity by 3 percent.

So far, demand appears strong. The Middle East had the highest hotel occupancy rates in the world during the first half of the year, with Dubai leading the region at 85.3 percent, according to professional services firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.

Dubai also had the highest room rates in the region, although revenue growth is slowing, Deloitte noted.

Atlantis' backers are optimistic they can fill its 1,539 rooms despite the economic uncertainty wracking some of the world's richest economies. Their focus is on well-heeled travelers from Europe, Russia, Asia and elsewhere in the Middle East.

'People will still take family holidays,' Leibman said. 'Dubai is still good value when you're paying in pounds, (or) you're paying in euros.'

Nakheel and Kerzner are both privately held companies and do not release sales data. Leibman said demand from tour groups looks strong well into the first part of next year.

Yet Marios Maratheftis, head of regional research for the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan at Standard Chartered Bank in Dubai, said there is 'good reason' to be concerned that global financial problems could hit Dubai's tourism industry. Nevertheless, he said, the city's long-term outlook remains positive.

Kerzner has grown increasingly close to Dubai in recent years. In 2006, the company took itself private in a £2 billion deal partially bankrolled by a division of Nakheel's state-owned parent, Dubai World. Nakheel retains a large stake in the company.

Meanwhile, Nakheel's hotel division has expanded rapidly. The company's holdings include New York's Mandarin Oriental, the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, and the W Hotel in Washington.

Its parent also owns a minority stake in MGM Mirage Inc., and is teaming with the casino operator and Kerzner to build a massive multibillion-dollar casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

But don't expect to find roulette wheels at Dubai's Atlantis. Islamic prohibitions against gambling ensure casinos remain off-limits.

Circus elephant dies after escaping on to busy highway and causing bus crash, killing driver

A bus has crashed into an elephant that had escaped from a circus on to a busy highway in Mexico, killing the 5-ton animal and the bus driver, Mexican news reports say.

State officials confirmed that bus driver Tomas Lopez, 49, was killed and at least four passengers were taken to hospital after the crash.

The elephant, believed to be named Hilda and about 40 years old, broke free while being fed on Monday evening, crashed through a gate and later stumbled on to a major road north of Mexico City at around midnight.

‘I untied her so she could eat,’ Marcelino Ramos, 22, one of the animal keepers at the Circo Union circus, was quoted as saying in the El Universal daily newspaper.

‘She never did this before, but suddenly she ran at full speed and broke through the gate.’

Mexico State police spokesman Juan Sanchez said the elephant escaped from its cage at the Circo Union, but he declined to give any other details. He said officials were investigating.

Small circuses often use the name Circo Union in Mexico and it was not immediately clear which one was involved.

Last month, a 500-pound lion escaped from a private zoo owned by a local lawmaker in southern Mexico. The animal killed two dogs and a pig and attacked a woman and child on a donkey before it was sedated and caught.

Buffy the bald chicken keeps out the chill with a special sweater after losing all her feathers in a battery farm

Buffy the bald chicken has a special sweater to keep her warm until her feathers grow back.

The stressed hen lost her plumage after having a fowl time in a cramped battery farm.

The one-year-old was also more than 2lb underweight when the RSPCA plucked her to safety three weeks ago.

Volunteers knitted the chilly chicken a striped woollen sweater to keep her warm as autumn sets in.

And now she is back to full health she has become the star attraction at the RSPCA rescue centre at Brent Knoll, near Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset.

Deputy manager Emma Phillips has been helping Buffy by becoming her ‘foster mum’ and keeps the hen in a luxury nestbox at the centre’s chicken shed.

She said: ‘Sadly, we occasionally find hens in this state when we rescue them and when Buffy arrived she looked like she was oven-ready.

‘But now she’s bold enough to peck and scratch about and tries to join the other chickens sunbathing in the sunshine wearing her little jumper.

‘Hopefully, with me acting as Buffy’s foster parent she will be nursed back to health with a full set of feathers.’

Buffy will be re-homed in the coming months as soon as RSPCA vets give her the all clear.

Scientists discover why we all have fish fingers

You may think you have little or no connection to the ugly-looking customer pictured below.

After all, you're an intelligent and good-looking Daily Mail reader and it is a crocodile-like beast that splashed about in the seas 385million years ago.

But it was the choice of creatures such as this to crawl out of the water and on to the land that mean you can hold this newspaper today.

For in doing so, their fins slowly evolved into what eventually became our fingers (and our toes, too).

The idea that the digits of land vertebrates were derived from the bones contained within fish fins is not new.

But it fell out of favour in the 1990s largely based on earlier studies of Panderichthys - our toothy friend pictured above - which appeared to show that it lacked the necessary finger-like divisions in its fins.

Instead, it was thought that digits in vertebrates developed simply as an 'evolutionary novelty'.

But now the findings of a study of a fossil have shown that the original interpretation was correct - Panderichthys did indeed have the divisions in its fins that would one day become fingers and toes.

The discovery has been made by biotechnologist Dr Catherine Boisvert and her colleagues at Uppsala University in Sweden after they X-rayed the fossil using computer scans.

She said their findings made a strong case for our digits not being just the happy accident of evolution.

The moment a jet boat was smashed to pieces in a 145mph crash... and the driver swam away unharmed

This is the astonishing moment a speedboat disintegrated in a high speed crash - and the driver walked away completely unharmed.

Crowds watched in horror as the boat Whiskey River flipped over at 145mph and was smashed into pieces at it repeatedly somersaulted with its driver inside.

Mark Workentine was pulled out of the water and taken to an ambulance - but walked away unhurt, saying his worst injury was a bruise on his arm.

'Anytime you crash these things you are lucky to be alive,' he said just minutes after the crash at the San Diego Thunderboat Regatta.

Later, he said: 'It's awesome. I'm very lucky. I've had friends lose their lives doing it.' Amazingly, he insists it has not dampened his desire to race again.

'I can't wait to get back in,' he said. 'I'd get back in tomorrow if they'd build me another boat.'

Asked how much the broken boat cost, he sighed: 'I don't want to even think about it.' But he admitted that the boat's owner 'is very grumpy with me'.

The thigh's the limit! How our 5ft 2 3/4in man measured up on a date with the world's longest legs

Had I met Svetlana Pankratova 20 years ago, I'd have run a mile. Not that it would have taken her very long to catch me.

Hold on a moment. I ought to be honest with myself - there's not a hope in hell that she'd have made chase.

Just look at the maths. Svetlana is many things. She is blonde, big-eyed, confident and attractive. She is also the owner of the longest pair of human legs on the planet.

Her legs measure 132cm, or 4ft 4in.

Meanwhile, my whole body comes in at 5ft 2 3/4in. (And don't you dare snatch that three-quarters of an inch from me.)

Despite all this, Svetlana has agreed to spend the afternoon with me, in an effort to give me a glimpse of what life is like for the big boys and girls.

We're perched by the bar in a pub in London's West End.

Sitting on her bar stool, she doesn't appear to be overly tall. It's only when she uncurls her legs and stands up that you notice how extraordinary her body is.

Put it like this: the top of her legs line up with my shoulders.

I won't spell out where my head is when we stand facing each other. But I won't be needing an umbrella today.

But it's not Svetlana's bust that has, over the past few days, enabled her to achieve a blast of worldwide fame.

She's just earned herself a place in the book of Guinness World Records because her legs are officially the longest in the world, a full two inches longer than the shortie who had previously been claiming the title.

Today, as she sips a pint of English bitter, her extraordinary limbs are housed in a pair of bright blue jeans that fit as tightly as a Harley Street surgeon's rubber gloves.

And quite right, too. She'd be daft to hide them, even if she could.

For her legs are not just inexplicably long, they are also slim, toned and sexy.

At this point, I should point out to my lovely wife that these descriptions of my drinking companion's body are delivered purely in the interest of scientific discovery.

And, in any case, Svetlana said: 'Though I don't mind dating shorter men, I wouldn't go to extremes, of course.'

Would 5ft 2 3/4 in count as an extreme?

'I'm afraid you would be too short for me,' replies Svetlana, whose boyfriend is a mere 6ft.

In fact, Svetlana, 36, who was born in Russia but now works as an estate agent on Spain's Costa del Sol, is not as tall as you might imagine.

Though her legs take up a whole 4ft 4in, her full body is 'only' 6ft 5in.

'All my extra height is in my legs,' she says. 'If I'm sitting behind my desk at work, no one realises how tall I am.

'Above the waist, I'm like everyone else. It's only when I stand up that people say "Wow".'

Nor is she the product of unusual parents. She's brought her mother along to our little drink in the pub, and Lidia, a sweet white-haired woman, is a mere 5ft 11in.

'She was an ordinary baby, not any larger than any of the other babies at first,' Lidia says.

'She weighed 3.2kg (7lb) when she was born.

'But by the time she reached her first birthday, I realised that she was growing very fast.'

Her look is certainly eyecatching. As we chat, two strangers peek their heads through the door of the pub.

It's gawping time at the zoo. Out come the mobile phone cameras. Snap, snap.

'People stare a lot. I suppose I'm used to it, but sometimes I still get irritated by the reaction I get,' says Svetlana.

'Some people do make nice comments, but most of them are pretty stupid.

'I'm surprised that middle-aged men think it's OK to behave like children when they see me. And I don't like it when people take pictures sneakily.'

Yet despite this, she appears to revel in the attention her body brings her.

In the cab to the pub, the driver instantly reached for his copy of the Daily Mail. 'You're the lady who was in my paper, aren't you?

'You've got incredible legs,' he said. 'Thank you,' she beamed.

It wasn't always like this.

'As a teenager, I was quite self conscious about my height.'

Her solution? She joined a basketball team.

'It would have been a waste not to have, wouldn't it? And it made me feel better being surrounded by tall people.'

These days, she flaunts what she's got. We leave the pub - eyes still swivelling - and walk along London's Tottenham Court Road.

She often wears mini skirts (they're sold as knee-length, of course).

'I'm very fond of my legs. I've got really nice legs, so why should I hide them?

'It's nice to show off the fact that I have the longest legs on the planet.'

The downsides are obvious.

She can't travel with easyJet or Ryanair. She can't buy trousers very easily.

She can't bear it when people say to her: 'Did you know you've got really long legs?'

But mostly she appears to revel in her extraordinary physique.

She hasn't ended up in the Guinness Book of World Records against her will - the entry is a direct result of an email she sent to the company when she realised that her legs were longer than the previous incumbent's.

Her trip to the UK is being funded by the publisher, and it may lead to a new career.

'Change is always nice,' she says enigmatically. 'I wouldn't mind doing something else - in the media. Or modelling.'

So, the million-dollar question: would she swop her 4ft 4in legs for mine?

She pauses for second. 'No thank you,' she says. 'I'm quite happy the way I am.'

• The new 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records is out now.

Father kills his two girls, one and three, then hangs himself,Gameover!

A father has killed his two young children before taking his own life.

The man, named locally as David Cass, 32, apparently smothered the girls, aged one and three, before hanging himself.

Police sources said that the man had telephoned his wife, from whom he had recently separated, and threatened to kill their children at around 6.45pm last night.

He is said to have told her that he could not bear to live without the girls.

The man, who was in his 30s, had been staying alone in a caravan near the garage where he worked following the breakdown of his marriage.

However, on Friday he resigned from his job at Paynes Road MOT centre in Southampton.

It is understood he had been looking after his two children for the weekend in the caravan. After he called his estranged wife threatening to kill the children, she dialled 999 and police launched an immediate search.

Officers arrived at the MOT centre within minutes, but all three were already dead.

The children's bodies were discovered in the caravan at the back of the garage, and their father's body was nearby.

Much of the road was sealed off last night as forensic officers searched the area looking for evidence.

The garage, which is opposite an infants' school and 100 yards from a parish church, offers MOTs and used car sales. It is closed on Sundays.

The verger of nearby Christ Church, William Green, 49, said: 'I was at church from 6.30 until 7.30. When I came out of the church the whole road was closed off and there were eight police cars and vans and an ambulance parked outside the garage.

'We had heard no sirens and had no idea what was happening all the time we'd been in church.

'This is dreadful. It's absolutely terrible that something like this should happen here. It's so out of character because this is normally a safe area.'

A Hampshire police spokesman said: 'Officers attended the car sales garage at around 6.51pm where they discovered the bodies.

'They are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

'Officers are currently in the process of tracing and informing next of kin.'

It is understood that the father only recently separated from his wife.

He left the marital home, and was offered a caravan by his employers at the garage as temporary respite.

His estranged wife allowed him to look after their two young daughters there on the weekend.

Police have launched Operation Roselands to investigate the deaths and a post-mortem examination on the three bodies is due to take place later today.

Could this be the world's largest diamond? Huge uncut gem discovered in African mine

A huge gem stone which could become the largest polished round diamond in history has been discovered.

The massive stone is the 20th largest rough diamond ever found, weighs 478 carats and is said to be of outstanding clarity.

It was recovered earlier this week at the Letseng Mine, in Lesotho, a small kingdom in South Africa.

Another similar sized rough stone from the same mine was recently valued at $12million.

But the clarity and round shape of the new gem mean it could be worth considerably more and in its polished state could fetch tens of millions of pounds.

It is estimated to be capable of producing a 150 carat polished gem stone, dwarfing the Koh-i-Noor diamond which is part of the Crown Jewels.

A spokesman for Gem Diamonds, who own the mine, added that initial examination suggested that the white diamond, which has yet to be named and valued, has a completely flawless centre.

The mine, which was owned by famous diamond company De Beers for many years, has already produced three of the world's biggest diamonds including the 603 carat Lesotho Promise, the 493 carat Leteng Legacy and the 601 carat Lesotho Brown.

Clifford Elphick, chief executive officer of Gem Diamonds, said 'Preliminary examination of this remarkable diamond indicates that it will yield a record breaking polished stone of the very best colour and clarity.'

The find is still dwarfed by the Cullinan Diamond which was discovered in 1905.

At 3,106 carats it was the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found but the biggest polished stone produced from it, the Great Star of Africa - 530 carats - is a teardrop shape.

The Koh-i-noor is a round cut but at 105 carats it is smaller than the potential size of the new find.

It originated in India but was seized by Britain as a spoil of war in 1849. It supposedly brings good luck to female owners and misfortune or death to any male who wears or owns it.

The moment a cow jumped over a woman (and the donkey collapsed with a fit of the giggles)

It looked like a scene from a comedy sketch show - the moment a cow attempted to leap over a woman - and the donkey she was with appeared to collapse to the floor laughing.

This bizarre sequence of pictures shows the cow spotting a lush patch of grass and bolting towards it for a quick feed.

The fact that peasant woman and owner of the cow, 68-year-old Rositza Kasaboba, was in the way did not deter Dana the hungry bovine, who simply attempted to hurdle her.

Thankfully Rositza was virtually unscathed by the incident and managed a grin as she picked herself up off the floor.

Unfortunately the cow, named Dana, will not get off so lightly after her antics - and will now become Christmas dinner for the woman's family.

Rositza, from the village of Krustatitsa in Bulgaria, said: "My cow has never done such a thing before and has left me battered and bruised.

"Worst of all - even my donkey collapsed afterwards on the ground, I am sure it was laughing at me."

Sorry dear! Husband drives wife's £58,000 Porsche into a pond

A husband had some explaining to do after driving his wife's £58,000 Porsche Cayenne into a pond.

The driver landed the luxury 4x4 window-deep in water after dramatically careering off the road to avoid a deer.

Although he managed to scramble free without injury, he was seen by local residents receiving a few stern words from his wife who owns the car.

The two-year-old dream car was left submerged after the accident at midnight near Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset.

An Avon and Somerset police spokesman confirmed no-one had been injured in the incident.

First British sighting of rare black fox captured on film

It's linked to Gaelic tradition and superstition. But the unlucky black fox has never been spotted in Britain before. Until now.

Kevin Hehir, 48, was out walking in a cemetery with his friend Jeff Brown when they spied the creature lurking among the gravestones.

Mr Hehir, from Preston, Lancashire, said: 'It was on the outskirts of Chorley, I don't want to give the exact location out as it's a very rare fox and I don't want people to go and try and catch it.

'We were walking along looking at gravestones and I spotted it. I thought, it's a myth, there's no such thing. I took some photos and videoed it.

'It's only a cub, I managed to get right up to it - I thought it was the Devil looking at me. It's definitely a black fox.

'It's really good because I've been told they're very rare and I've got it on video.'

In North America, foxes with black coats are often found, with a variable amount of white or white-banded hair in the dark coat.

And, in years gone by, rural communities told stories of the black fox and how it was as 'black as night, so that it could live in a man's shadow and never be seen'.

Superstition seems to attach itself to black animals, likewise in the past with black dogs and - to this day - black cats.

Lancashire Wildlife Trust conservation officer David Dunlop said: 'It's a Gaelic tradition, originating from the black dog which was said to bring doom and disaster to those who see it.

'Only one black fox has been seen and, as far as I know, it's the only one to be seen in this country before.

'In North America, I think it's about one in five red foxes are black but that's because they were introduced from Europe.'

Drunken youths jailed for beating father 'beyond recognition' after he asked them to stop urinating on a car

A judge has commended the courage of a man who was beaten 'beyond recognition as a person' by three drunken youths after he challenged them for urinating on a car.

Gareth Avery, 48, has permanent damage to his eyesight after he was stamped on and kicked as he lay unconscious in a pool of blood near his home.

Daniel Fawcett, 21, and Spencer Pettifor and Alan Stevens, both 17, were today jailed for a total of 10 years and nine months for the February attack.

Pettifor and Stevens, who were 16 at the time of the attack, were given three years' youth detention, while Fawcett was handed a prison sentence of four years and nine months.

Judge Michael Longman, sitting at Bristol Crown Court, said: 'This is a truly horrific incident of mindless violence fuelled by drinking visited on a decent member of the public for doing no more than complaining in a robust way about anti-social behaviour.

'He had the courage to say and do something, the result was that he was viscously and brutally assaulted in what was a prolonged attack where he had no chance to defend himself and through most of it he was unconscious.

'He suffered extremely serious injuries with severe consequences for himself physically, psychologically and financially some of which will be permanent.'

The trio and two girls had been drinking vodka and cider at Fawcett's house all evening until about 1am.

Fawcett was electronically tagged as part of a curfew order for a public order offence and so stayed at home while the others left.

Mr Avery was walking home from the pub in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, when he came across the group and saw Pettifor urinating against a car.

Prosecutor Robert Davies told Bristol Crown Court that Mr Avery remonstrated the teenager saying 'something to the effect of "What the f*** do you think you are doing?"

'Alan Stevens was behind Mr Avery and he was then grabbed by him and they fell to the ground.'

At some point Fawcett's girlfriend, who told police she tried to stop the teenagers from kicking Mr Avery, called Fawcett who lived nearby.

Fawcett then joined in the beating by raining down kicks and stamps on Mr Avery who was already unconscious.

'The next thing that Mr Avery remembers is someone telling him to wake up and a vague memory of him being in an ambulance,' said Mr Davies.

'He had been subjected to a prolonged, brutal and pitiless attack by these three and was entirely unable to defend himself.

'The violence seems to be directed at punishing Mr Avery for having the audacity to challenge the boy's behaviour.

'His face was swollen, there was a gelatinous mass of blood. It was a very serious injury that you would not have been able to recognise him as a person.'

Mr Avery suffered a fractured cheekbone, two broken eye sockets and needed metal plates fitted in his face after the attack. He had extensive surgery to rebuild his face and eye socket and now suffers from double vision.

At the last court hearing in August Judge John Foley agreed to lift reporting restrictions on the two teenagers allowing them to be named because of the seriousness of the crime.

But he ordered the reporting of the boys names to be postponed until after sentencing to prevent any possible "reprisals" while they were on bail.

Speaking outside court Mr Avery, who at one point choked back tears, said he wanted tougher prison sentences to be handed down.

'I don't think the sentences were long enough, but that's not the judge's fault it comes from higher up the government,' he said.

'I have just had to get on with my life, I have not let it ruin my life but it has made me more wary of groups of youths.

'There seems to be more yob culture around than when I was a lad and there are a lot of feral children.

'I didn't think what I did was courageous, to me it was just someone peeing against a car but I'm not sure whether I would challenge someone again, it was just spur of the moment.'

After the attack a picture showing Mr Avery's battered and blue face was issued as an example of the effects of yob culture in Britain.

Mr Avery said he has not been able to look at those pictures again.

'I came to court today because I have not seen them (attackers) before now and I wanted to know who they were.

'I have not received an apology from them at all, even though one lives down the road from me.

'But I have no feelings towards them now.

'It's been an upsetting experience but I know that I am lucky to be alive.'