A dad who was left blinded in a brutal attack which saw a snooker cue pierce his eye socket said he is looking forward to one day being able to ride a bike with his daughter.
Stephen Currie, 42, was attacked by hooded thugs with a snooker cue, while with his friend on the footbridge between Hallwood Park and Beechwood in Runcorn.
One of the two hooded rogues hit Stephen with such force that the snooker cue broke leaving a stump used to pierce his eye socket, causing brain damage, blindness and partial paralysis.
The attackers then made off, taking with them a motorbike which they stole from the friends.
Following the life-changing attack, on January 23, 2017, Stephen spent a gruelling five months and two weeks in hospital.
Last month, 30-year-old Sean Meadows, of no fixed abode, was found not guilty of all charges in connection with the incident – a verdict that left Stephen, who had given evidence, "gutted" and in tears.
Meadows was however sent down, for a separate offence, for nine years, with a year on extended licence, for possessing a shotgun with intent to causes fear of violence.
The charge was in connection with a terrifying car chase and drive-by shooting in Runcorn on June 19, 2018 and not connected to Stephen's case.
Three years on from his ordeal on the footbridge Stephen said he is still finding it hard to live with the effects of the attack.
Due to his injuries, Stephen - who is slow on his feet and frail - has a permanently closed eyelid above his right cheek - a painful forever reminder of the attack.
On top of being blinded in the callous attack, Stephen also suffered brain damage and partial paralysis to his face.
He still walks with a stick when out, but has made progress, and his speech, although slowed, is now coherent and steady.
Speaking about the night of the attack, Stephen said he regrets his reasons for being on the footbridge - where he was attacked.
He said he had been heading to the footbridge to buy a "20-bag" – £20 of cannabis - something he now greatly regrets.
He added: “I always think about it, why didn’t I just not go? You know what I mean? I’d have two eyes.
“I’m still struggling getting used to what has happened even now.
“I haven’t been back to physio since court and then they said ‘you feel really low, everything’s brought back up again’.
“They said ‘leave it a few weeks then start again’.
“I was in hospital in total for five months and two weeks and in Fazakerley for I think five and a half weeks and St Helens rehab centre for the rest of the time.”
The former Norton Priory pupil and bike mechanic said he feels "all right" but is still "struggling" to get used to what happened.
Stephen said since the attack he no longer feels completely secure in his own home – a ground-floor flat in Castlefields, which was recently targeted in an attempted burglary and had a firework inserted into its external gas supply.
The dad said he wants to move but would like to remain in Runcorn among family and friends instead of seeking sanctuary under witness protection.
Due to his health issues, following the attack, Stephen said he has struggled to work, which has caused him to fall into debt.
However Stephen, who is trying to now pay off the debt, said he hopes he will be found more suitable housing, with a second bedroom for when his daughter stays.
In another blow for Stephen he was unable to seek criminal injury compensation, which was denied because he breached a community order for a cannabis offence related to growing for personal use.
However despite everything that has happened to him Stephen is not giving up hope with his recovery.
The Runcorn dad said he is due to start physiotherapy soon, which was delayed by the trial as he was told his mood would be "too low" to engage properly.
But he is keen to press on and take to two wheels again – particularly for his daughter Amelia, 11, – first by building some strength on an exercise bike, as well as learning to drive again and pass the mandatory retest.
He said he is working on regenerating his balance, which is now "not 100%" but "a lot better than it was".
Asked what his big hope for the future is now, a smile flashed on his face and he said: “I just bought my daughter a bike, a mountain bike and she goes ‘Daddy, when you can ride a bike we can go on bike rides!
"It’s just about getting more mobile now.
“I want to ride a pedal bike again.
“I’m starting to get my balance again.
“I’m on the exercise bike build up my strength."
Victims of crime can contact the Victim Support charity for free on 0808 1689 111.