THIS is the battered face of proud dad Mark Earnshaw – beaten senseless for trying to defend his community.
As this shocking picture shows, the 51-year-old was punched and kicked beyond recognition when he stepped in to stop two teenage thugs vandalising a park near his Blackpool home.
Today, as police hunted his vicious attackers, he said: “I thought they were going to kick me into a coma.”
“I WENT out without really thinking about it, but now I would just let them get on with it.”
Mark Earnshaw’s act of bravery left him a bloodied mess and fearing for his life.
Today, the 51-year-old father is nursing a broken nose, two black eyes, impaired vision and a hole in his face – all received when he tried to stop two teenagers vandalising Anchorsholme Park.
Mr Earnshaw (pictured) spoke to the youths outside his home on Huntingdon Road, Anchorsholme, when he arrived back from a birthday party at the Ashley Club in Thornton.
He left peacefully and went indoors but was soon disturbed by the sound of items being smashed in the entrance to the park and went back out to try and put a stop to the vandalism.
He said: “I looked out of the window but couldn’t see what was going on so went outside and saw they were smashing the park up.
“They said they were doing it for something to do and one of them came over to me and said ‘go on, touch me.’
“He kept saying it and getting agitated and I knew I had to get out of there.
“I turned round, took three steps and got hit from behind.
“I didn’t see it coming.”
The attack left Mr Earnshaw dazed and unable to defend himself as blows rained down on him.
He added: “There was all sorts of things going through my mind and I kept thinking ‘don’t fall over.’
“I told them to stop and said I’d had enough because there was a lot of blood.
“But they didn’t. I thought they were going to kick me into a coma – that’s when I started to get frightened.”
Mr Earnshaw eventually escaped and ran back into the safety of his home, but he was followed and he claims the same two teens started vandalising his neighbour’s car.
The story echoes the harrowing case of Garry Newlove who was murdered after being kicked to death by a gang of youths when he confronted them as they damaged his wife’s car outside their Warrington home.
The 47-year-old father of three suffered a massive brain haemorrhage and died in hospital two days after the attack in August 2007.
Despite his heroics, Mr Earnshaw says he is unlikely to repeat them any time soon.
He added: “I don’t like the senseless damage of things.
“It annoys me people get a kick out of smashing up the park. You hear about what happens to other people like Garry Newlove who lost his life doing something like this.
“I went out without really thinking about it, but now I would just let them get on with it.”
Coun Tony Williams, ward councillor for Anchorsholme, is urging anyone with information about the attack to come forward. He said: “I’m shocked a good neighbour’s act has turned into violence by mindless idiots.
“It’s a very honourable thing to do. It is still advisable to contact the police first and I’m so sorry he has suffered these injuries.
“As much as I understand Mr Earnshaw’s great deed it shows how dangerous it can be when you try to stop mindless thugs.
“It sounds like the offenders are from the local area.
“If anyone knows who they are, they should give them up to the police because next time it could be fatal.”
Police have described the first offender as being aged 17 to 21, of skinny build, between six feet and 6ft 3in tall, with short dark hair and wearing grey tracksuit bottoms.
The second youth is believed to be the same age and build, between 5ft 9in and 5ft 11in, has a reddish face and was wearing white Adidas trainers.
Anyone with information can call police on 101.