Assault victim speaks out as Avenham attack pair are jailed for vicious incident

Posted on - 29th July, 2015 - 2:41pm | Author - | Posted in - Broadgate, Crime, Preston City Centre, Preston News
Gabriella before the attack and then with her injuries sustained

Gabriella before the attack and then with her injuries sustained

The victim of a vicious assault in the Broadgate area has spoken of her relief after the pair who attacked her and a friend were jailed.


Gabriella Simons, then 18, needed plastic surgery after being grabbed by the hair, punched and kicked in the ribs. Millar then smashed a glass into the teenager’s face.

Her attackers Tracey Millar, 29, of Rushy Hey, Lostock Hall and Mark Speariett, 33, of Sandringham Road, Walton-le-Dale, were both given prison sentences at Preston Crown Court.

Millar pleaded guilty to Section 18 wounding with intent and received three and a half years in prison.

Speariett pleaded guilty to Section 47 assault and received eight months in prison.

Mark Speariett, left, and Tracey Millar, right

Mark Speariett, left, and Tracey Millar, right

The assault happened close to the Continental Pub in South Meadow Lane in July last year.

The pair had just left a wedding reception and were seen arguing. Gabriella and her friend Jack Higginbotham, 19, who were sat nearby tried to intervene.

Both Gabriella and Jack were due to begin university in September but their lives were put on hold due to the attack and their injuries.

Millar attacked Gabriella, punching and kicking her multiple times before smashing a glass in her face.

Jack was set upon by Speariett who punched him, knocking him to the floor before kicking him in the head up to six times. Jack was left with a concussion and severe bruising.

Confidence of a bright young girl destroyed

Injuries sustained by Gabriella

Injuries sustained by Gabriella

Gabriella said: “Before my friend and I were assaulted I was looking forward to starting my first year of university, moving away from home and starting a new chapter in my life. I would describe myself as outgoing, bubbly and confident but now since the attack I find myself anxious and unwilling to put myself forward. Because of the assault, moving away to study was a very difficult decision to make.

“I have been left with permanent scars on my face and may still need to have further plastic surgery. I still have numbness in my top lip where one of the scars is and I have problems with my right eye, the one that bled. I may even still have some glass in my face. I now hate looking at my face and the scars that I have been permanently left with.

“I have a passion for amateur dramatics but because of my scarring I haven’t yet been to any auditions as I feel all that people will see are the scars on my face. Since the assault I haven’t been back to Avenham Park and I’ve also rarely been out in Preston. I have huge problems sleeping because of flash backs of the incident and I have terrible dreams involving glass and my eye bleeding.

“It has been so difficult trying to put the incident to rest and deal with my feelings. I don’t like talking to people about the incident and the entire subsequent trauma I am still feeling. I worry that I will be affected for the rest of my life as a result of being assaulted and scarred.

“Although I believe that attempting to intervene and dilute the domestic incident between the couple was the right thing to do, their reaction was so disproportionate. I would now think twice about trying to assist anyone and probably wouldn’t intervene at all even though I would feel it was the right thing to do, for fear of being attacked again.

“The impact the attack has had on my close family and friends has been terrible; I wish not only that Jack and I hadn’t suffered through this but that they too did not have to feel the pain they have, at seeing me so physically and emotionally hurt.”

Only trying to intervene

Detective Inspector Paddy O’Neill from Lancashire Police led the inquiry and said: “Our two victims only tried to intervene in the domestic incident as they felt Millar was under threat. For Speariett and for Millar in particular to react in such a violent manner is a disgrace. Gabriella was left with serious scars and facial injuries that will remind her of this awful attack for the rest of her life. The fact that the pair were trying to do the right thing makes Millar and Speariett’s conduct even more reprehensible.

“We believe Millar burned the dress she was wearing at the time of the offence in an attempt to avoid prosecution, and she showed no remorse prior submitting the guilty plea very late on.

“I hope these sentences will serve as a deterrent and make people think twice before engaging in drunken violence as the consequences can be significant – as they are in this case for Jack and Gabriella, for Millar and Speariett and their young family. The public will not tolerate this type of behaviour in Lancashire, and neither will we.”

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