A MOTHER today told of the heartbreaking moment she agreed to let her teenage son die after he fell victim to booze-fuelled street violence.
Thomas Walker was savagely attacked in St Annes by two drunken 15-year-olds.
He was left fighting for his life and given only a one per cent chance of recovery after suffering "catastrophic" head injuries when he was punched to the ground and bludgeoned with his own crutch.
Thomas, 19, miraculously survived, but only after surgery to remove part of his brain.
In an exclusive interview, his mother Helen Howe described how her knees buckled beneath her and she was physically sick when she arrived at the hospital immediately after the attack and was told of her son's chances of survival.
She was then presented with a terrible decision.
Mrs Howe, a 44-year-old nurse, said: "They told us the only option was to remove part of his brain.
"There was no guarantee he would survive, but if he didn't have the operation he would be dead in two hours.
"They told us it would affect his personality and he may suffer some physical disability.
"I told them Tom wouldn't want to be left in that condition so the whole family agreed not to go ahead with the operation.
"We then left the waiting room to go and sit with him while he died.
"My other son was hysterical and I had to be firm and tell him that Tom was going to die and we were going to sit with him."
Mrs Howe recalled how the medical team persuaded her to let them try to save Thomas's life.
"All the surgery team came to see us and begged us to let them do the operation to give him one more chance to survive," she said.
"They felt he was young enough and had a one per cent chance to recover. I didn't want to take the responsibility so we told them to go ahead."
Mrs Howe, together with her husband Darren, Thomas's father Simon Walker and his two brothers Chris, 22, and Harry, 17, waited.
The operation proved to be a success. Although Thomas will be affected by the injuries for the rest of his life he is now back working part-time with the family decorating business and expects to resume college in September.
The teenager, who at the time was on crutches due to a broken leg, had been on a night out with friends on May 11 last year when he was attacked in St Annes Square.
The two young attackers, who were part of a big group who targeted Thomas and his friends, were sentenced for the attack at Burnley Crown Court on Thursday.
One admitted punching Mr Walker and hitting him with the crutch while the second admitted he had also thrown a punch.
The court heard how it was not possible to prove which blow led to Thomas hitting the ground, causing the injuries to his head.
Mrs Howe added: "Tom just wants to get on with his life now in private and wouldn't want me talking about how he's doing, so I won't.
"I'd just ask that people leave him alone to get on with it. He may look fine now, but with head injuries nothing is ever certain.
"I've gone through all the emotions from anger to sadness and despair, but I don't bear anybody any animosity.
"We all live in the same area and I'm sure their families have been through hell like we have."
The defendant who attacked Mr Walker with a crutch received two years' youth custody while his accomplice admitted causing actual bodily harm assault and is facing a year under a Youth Referral Order.
Neither boy, now both 16, can be named for legal reasons.