The park where care worker Alan Willson was brutally attacked trying to save his son from bullies is a no-go area plagued by drug dealers, families claimed today.
Sellers and users were said to openly trade and take drugs, including crack cocaine, making Longcroft Park a menacing place to visit in daylight and completely avoided after dark.
Mr Willson, 46, had to sprint there from his home in Worthing, West Sussex, when he heard a group were throwing his son to the floor on Easter Sunday.
When he tried to intervene he was knocked unconscious – before his head was hit with an object as his horrified son watched.
The victim’s wife Annie tonight spoke about the added stress of not being able to see her husband in hospital due to Covid-19 regulations.
She said Mr Willson’s condition remained serious five days after the brutal attack.
In a statement, she said: ‘We are incredibly grateful for the support shown to us by the community following the assault.
‘To know that so many people care has brought us comfort at what has been an extremely difficult time. My husband is still in a very serious condition in hospital.
‘This has been made all the more upsetting by the fact we haven’t been able to go and visit him as a family due to Covid restrictions.
‘We are thankful to all the medical staff who are working so hard to look after him.
‘We ask that our privacy is respected and we are given time and space as a family to concentrate on my husband’s recovery.’
Alan Willson, 46, (right) sprinted from his home in Worthing, West Sussex, to nearby Longcroft Park when he heard a group were throwing his son to the floor on Easter Sunday
Drug paraphernalia found in Longcroft Park where Mr Willson was attacked next to a notorious spot where dealers congregate
Four youths were arrested on Sunday (police at the scene on Sunday, pictured) and another on Monday. All five have been since been bailed – but are under ‘strict conditions’ including a ban on meeting each other and curfews
Frightened locals today told MailOnline they rarely see police patrolling the park – a vivid contrast to the crime scene where the savage attack was unleashed on Mr Willson.
One, a pensioner aged 78, said: ‘This park should be a safe haven for the kids and for elderly people like me who just wanna get some peace from the area.
‘But it’s really rough. The big problem is the drug dealers in this park and kids smoking crack and getting out of their heads.
‘One doesn’t feel safe at all when they’re around. We need more police.
‘I walk my dog in the morning and afternoon but never in the evening. I wouldn’t want to be here in the dark.
‘The drug dealers congregate in a kids playground and they bring their music speakers and have some sort of rave parties which annoys the hell out of everybody.’
‘We need more police officers in here. A bigger police presence would make sure that there would be no drugs sold. It is almost as if these youngsters feel they are running a legitimate business and the police can’t stop them.’
Another resident, a woman who asked not to be identified, said: ‘I’ve got a young daughter and I’m scared to take her into the park.
‘There is a kids playground in there with a climbing frame and she should be able to play on that with her friends.
‘But I’m not having that when these boys who look like men are around.
‘They sit there on a bench near the kids playground smoking their drugs, shouting and playing loud music. This has been going on through the pandemic as well. The police need to arrest the whole lot of them.’
MailOnline can reveal that police carried out several drugs raids at addresses close to the park and arrested suspected dealers late last year.
At least two nearby houses were thought to have been being used as factories to produce cannabis.
Police were pictured at the park on Thursday. Mr Willson sprinted from his home in Worthing, West Sussex, to nearby Longcroft Park when he heard a group were throwing his son to the floor on Easter Sunday.
Mail Online can reveal that police carried out several drugs raids at addresses close to the park and arrested suspected dealers late last year. Pictured: Police on the scene on Thursday
Mr Willson remained in a critical condition in hospital today after the attack last weekend. Pictured: Police on the scene on Thursday
Mr Willson suffered lung trauma, broken bones and fractures to his spine – and had to have surgery on his brain in Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton. Pictured: Police and an air ambulance at the scene on Sunday
A number of arrests have been made over the last few months.
Fundraisers collect more than £20,000 for father seriously assaulted in park
More than £20,000 has been raised for a care home worker who was seriously assaulted after he is understood to have stepped in to protect his son in a park.
Alan Willson is reported to have been knocked unconscious after he ran from his home in Worthing, West Sussex, to Longcroft Park after his son called him to say he was being attacked on Easter Sunday.
The 46-year-old was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton where he is in a coma.
Five youths were arrested on suspicion for attempted murder and grievous bodily harm with intent and have been released on bail under ‘strict curfews’.
Three fundraising pages have been set up to support Mr Willson and his family, with one organised by friend Cheryl Edwards on justgiving.com having reached £22,659 by Thursday.
Rhiann Wiseman, who has set up another appeal on GoFundMe, wrote on the site: ‘Alan’s son rung him to say he was in trouble in longcroft park, he went round to see what was happening to his young son & was brutally attacked.
‘He is now in a coma after being beaten. His son saw the whole thing! We just want to take off any financial stress that is going to effect his wife & children.’
And Tracy Bassett, who also started an appeal, wrote on GoFundMe: ‘I work alongside this lovely local lady who’s husband was brutally attacked when he went to answer a call of help from his son who then saw the whole attack!!’
Mr Willson remained in a critical condition in hospital today after the attack last weekend.
A neighbour said the family were extremely close-knit and caring, adding Alan was a ‘proper family man who would do anything for his family.’
He said: ‘They’re a lovely couple, the whole family are. They do everything together. The whole street is shocked by this, everyone is. Alan is a lovely guy and proper family man who would do anything for his family.
‘No-one really knows what’s gone on but it sounds horrendous. There have been problems with teenagers in the park doing drink and drugs and stuff in the past. I’ve spoken to friends about it myself.
‘We’re hoping and praying he’s going to be okay.’
Another said: ‘The family are at the hospital. They’ve been there on and off since this happened and they don’t want pestering. They’re trying to be strong for each other.’
Mr Willson suffered lung trauma, broken bones and fractures to his spine – and had to have surgery on his brain in Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton.
He is now in a coma fighting for his life.
Five youths – who cannot be named due to their age – have been arrested for attempted murder and grievous bodily harm with intent.
Four were arrested on Sunday and another on Monday. All five have been since been bailed – but are under ‘strict conditions’ including a ban on meeting each other and curfews.
The pandemic frontline worker is currently in a coma – with those close to his family terrified that he may wake up with brain damage, The Sun reports.
His horrified wife Annie, 49, described how her husband is ‘fighting for his life after brain surgery for multiple bleeds on the brain’.
In a post online, she said he is the most kind and gentle man in the world’.
She said their 11-year-old son has been left traumatised by the ordeal.
Mr Willson’s 25-year-old daughter Becky Willson issued a heartbreaking post on Facebook about her father, urging him to not to let his attackers ‘win’.
She wrote: ‘I just wish i could just see you dad and tell you its going to be okay.
‘Please dad fight for your f****** life you are such a strong, caring man who has brought us kids up and loved us like we are your own.
‘You have so much life left to live and a granddaughter who needs to grow up with her nan-dad.
Five youths – who cannot be named due to their age – have been arrested for attempted murder and grievous bodily harm with intent. Pictured: Police at the scene on Sunday
‘I wish I could just hold your hand but unfortunately Covid has decided that for us.
‘You can do this dad.’
A JustGiving fundraiser has been set up by the Willsons’ family friend Cheryl Edwards.
It set out to raise only £500 to ‘support the family’ with expenses such as travel.
But donations have snowballed with the grand total now standing at £7,603.
To donate to Mr Willson’s fundraiser, click here.