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Life destroyed by mugging

PUBLISHED: 14:30 29 January 2002 | UPDATED: 15:24 03 March 2010

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY Ipswich bus driver Spencer Peters had the world at his feet…a dream job, a new baby, a loving family.

Then his life was destroyed for just £20 - when he was viciously mugged by two men as he walked home from work.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY Ipswich bus driver Spencer Peters had the world at his feet…a dream job, a new baby, a loving family.

Then his life was destroyed for just £20 - when he was viciously mugged by two men as he walked home from work.

Speaking as thug Jonathan Swart begins a four-year jail sentence for robbery Mr Peters, 28, revealed how one night changed his life forever and left him a shadow of the man he once was.

He suffers panic attacks, is frightened to go out alone and one year after the attack has finally given up his battle to hang on to the job he loved.

"It just got too much in the end. I had to give up work. Night-time scared me a lot. I kept having panic attacks every time I was on the bus," he said.

His son, Jake, was just a few months old when Mr Peters was robbed and beaten so badly that doctors feared he would lose an eye. He had tried to resist handing over cash because he needed the £20 in his wallet to buy nappies.

His wife Nicola, 27, and children Jake, now aged one and Angel, two, have lost the man they once knew.

"There's no confidence left in him. He doesn't sleep well at nights. He used to be happy-go-lucky but now he has got so down. He was a changed person overnight," said part-time clerical assistant Mrs Peters.

Mr Peters, a driver for Ipswich Buses, left work in Constantine Road at about 11.30pm on April 30 last year and was walking along Yarmouth Road when 28-year-old Swart appeared from the steps leading down to the river.

He demanded money and when Mr Peters refused he hit him in the face.

"I tried to run away but he grabbed hold of my work bag. The next thing I knew I felt a blow to the back of my head, I was on the ground and I realised there was another attacker," said Mr Peters who was later able to pick Swart out at an identification parade.

"They were punching and kicking me and I tried to crawl away then one of them grabbed me by the foot and started to pull me towards the steps to the river.

"I was so scared I thought they were going to kill me.

"I had £20 in my wallet that was for the baby's nappies. I didn't have anything more and I kept thinking I don't want the baby to go without. They kept kicking me and tried to get my watch that my little girl had got me for Christmas."

The attackers fled and a passer-by helped him to his parent's house nearby, where an ambulance was called to take him to hospital.

His bruised and bloodied face swelled to three times its size a result of the attack and he suffered broken teeth, cut lips and a black eye, which nearly left him blind.

Mr Peters, who spent nine years working in a chicken factory in Claydon before getting his dream job on the buses, was able to return to work after six weeks – but his life was never the same.

Unable to sleep and plagued by panic attacks he feared for the safety of his passengers, and after nearly a year "on and off" the job without ever managing a full month he finally handed in his notice.

Recalling life before the attack he said: "We were happy. It seemed things were going our way. Our baby had just been born then overnight it all changed. It was downhill from there."

Swart, of High Street, Needham Market broke down in tears when a jury at Ipswich Crown Court found him guilty of robbery.

N Mr Peters and his family would like to thank the passer-by who helped him on that night, and who possible saved his life.

The young man, believed to be called Sam Hornsby, stopped on a dark night to help a man he didn't know who was covered in blood and lying on the street.

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