Homeless Igor gets haircut, medicine and a place to stay as Blackpool pulls together to help him after brutal and prolonged attack

The homeless man badly beaten by three thugs was moved to tears by the generosity of well-wishers who have rallied to help him.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 3rd October 2018, 10:22 am
Updated Wednesday, 3rd October 2018, 4:33 pm
Igor had his hair cut yesterday, was bought reading glasses and medicine, and given a place to stay for three nights for free (Pictures: Mark Butcher/Facebook)
Igor had his hair cut yesterday, was bought reading glasses and medicine, and given a place to stay for three nights for free (Pictures: Mark Butcher/Facebook)

Igor Gieci was left battered and bruised in the early hours attack, which police said was being treated as "unprovoked and prolonged".

Nobody had been arrested as of this morning, the force said.

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Igor had his hair cut yesterday, was bought reading glasses and medicine, and given a place to stay for three nights for free (Pictures: Mark Butcher/Facebook)

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Since the 55-year-old spoke of his "scary" ordeal, which happened at around 2am on Monday, well-wishers have raised more than £1,000 and flooded him with offers of help.

Resort homeless campaigner Mark Butcher, who founded the Amazing Graze soup kitchen in Boothley Road, bought the Slovakian reading glasses, food, a haircut, and medicine.

And a local property developer has given him the use of a central Blackpool holiday flat, for free, until Friday.

Igor was left with significant facial injuries

Mark said: "Igor was so happy he could not believe it. He was so happy. We just plan to let him rest, feed him, and try to get him healthy."

It is hoped £3,000 will be raised through donations, which would pay six months' rent up front and can be made here. Mr Gieci, who has been homeless for six to eight months, does not qualify for housing benefit.

Mr Butcher said: "In the short term we want to get his health back, but the mid-term plan is to get him back to work because that's the only way he can sustain himself.

"We are looking for an employer, and a landlord."

Mr Butcher asked anybody who can help to email him at [email protected]

He added: "Everybody has given Igor his dignity back. They apologised and said, 'Blackpool is not like this, please don't think everybody is like this because we are not.'

"People were commenting all day, saying sorry and apologising for what happened to him."

In broken English, Mr Gieci yesterday relived the moment "17 to 18-year-olds" ordered him to hand over his money - he did not have any - before raining punches and kicks down on him.

"Me speak 'Please, stop it, stop it, what is me problem, me no problem," he said.

The boys, who had hoods up, smacked Mr Gieci with his own crutches and took his basic Alcatel mobile phone, which he fears they threw in the Irish Sea to stop him calling police, before they strolled off like “normal.” His tent was also ripped and thrown away.

Mr Gieci said he went to the tourist information centre after the attack, and was taken to the council’s housing office in Albert Road before being driven to hospital by a council worker.

He was treated and discharged, and later helped by the Street Angels – Christian volunteers who work across the resort to help the needy and the vulnerable – who took him to a safer place. Nobody at Street Angels could be immediately reached for a comment.

Struggling to walk – or eat anything substantial because of injuries to his stomach – Mr Gieci was yesterday being looked after by Mr Butcher, who said: “When I saw him he cried because he trusts me and I’m his friend. He asked me, ‘Why?’

“I can’t answer him. I think it’s barbaric. I’m perplexed. I just don’t understand because he’s such a gentleman. He’s so nice.”

The campaign to help Mr Gieci, who has travelled the UK looking for work since moving here 16 years ago, was launched as people reacted with anger at the attack – as well as offering items like sleeping bags and coats.

“Thank you, my friend,” Mr Gieci told Mr Butcher when the campaign went live. “Good man. Thank you,” he said, as the pair hugged.

Mr Butcher said Mr Gieci has had to cope with regularly being spat on, and said: “I have replaced three tents now because his other tent was slashed with a knife and they urinated on it.”

Mr Gieci said he has been living in Blackpool for two years, after previous stays in Bradford, Northampton, Birmingham, and Wolverhampton. He said: “Last year, me call my friend. ‘Igor, come to Blackpool, starting season, no problem, work.’”

But he said he found himself out of work, and with no place to stay.

And while he admitted to drinking alcohol to help cope with life on the streets, he said he does not take drugs, including former legal high Spice and cannabis. “Okay, me alcoholic,” he said. “Because now sleep on the floor, me start cider. Me cold.”

He said he has been sleeping in a shelter near to the Metropole hotel on the Promenade in the town centre, a regular hang out for the homeless, and, at 12.45pm on Tuesday, September 18, was served with a community protection warning.

The council and police document, seen by The Gazette, bans him from sleeping – or trying to sleep – in a public area, including toilets and bus shelters, from having or drinking alcohol, or failing to “engage with support services that are offered to you”.

Coun Gillian Campbell, the deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “I am horrified to hear that this attack has taken place and I urge anyone with information to speak to the police.

“Our housing officers have been working with Mr Gieci for a number of months and he receives visits on a daily basis to check on his well-being. One of the officers took him to hospital following this terrible attack.

“Unfortunately Mr Gieci has not accepted any of the help or assistance that we have offered. It is a very sad situation but we are committed to helping him into accommodation as his current living situation cannot continue.”

Det Con Adam Weaver, from Blackpool CID, said: “This was a brutal and sustained assault on a vulnerable man and I would appeal to any witnesses or anyone with information to come forward and speak to us.”

Anyone with information can call police on 101, quoting log number 0635 of October 1, 2018. It can also be reported anonymously to the charity Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.