THREE boys who beat a father with logs in a sustained and vicious attack after he stepped in to protect another boy have been found guilty.

Former care worker Alan Willson’s face and skull were shattered when the boys battered him in a Worthing park on Easter Sunday last year.

His wife, Annie Willson, had gasped in horror as one of the boys described to the court how he heard his ribs crack.

The Argus: Harry Furlong Harry Furlong

The youngest boy smirked at Mrs Willson as he was taken down.

Two teenagers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and Harry Furlong, 18, from Horsham bragged and joked about the remorseless attack minutes after beating Mr Willson with heavy logs.

Wearing a blue suit and tie, Furlong shook as the other two boys were convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent by unanimous jury verdict.

The Argus: Allan WilsonAllan Wilson

The youngest of the boys stared back at Mrs Willson from the dock as she wept in the public gallery.

An hour later, Furlong was convicted of grievous bodily harm by a majority of 11 to one.

Her Honour Judge Christine Henson QC praised Mrs Willson for her quiet dignity.

She said: “To Mrs Willson, you sat through this trial with quiet dignity in a court really set up for you sitting so close to the dock.

“It must’ve been hard for you to hear evidence and you have dealt with it with quiet dignity.”

A jury in Hove heard the attack started after the boys were involved in a row with another 11-year-old over a frisbee.

Mr Willson, 46, suffered severe and life changing head injuries when he was beaten with a heavy, blunt object.

His face and skull were shattered, an expert told the court.

The jury were told the two boys, now aged 14 and 15, have a history of violent offending.

They have 13 convictions between them, all for causing actual bodily harm or battery.

The youngest boy was only ten at the time of his first recorded offence.

Gemma White for the prosecution told a jury: “The Crown’s case is that this was a vicious and frenzied group attack with a pack mentality.”

Mr Willson was in hospital for three months.

Asked about his recovery, wife Annie Willson said: “He has recovered as much as he’s going to.

“He will never speak again.

“He has no mental capacity although it fluctuates.

“He is continent but not always.

“He is the most frustrated person I’ve ever seen because on the days when he has capacity, he knows what he wants to say but he can’t say it.”

A boy who witnessed the attack described how Mr Willson and the other three boys started arguing.

The boy told police: “One of them just came like grabbing and pushing him and then they all started whacking him with like stumps or like really large thick sticks.”

Mr Willson was bleeding heavily from his ears and head when his wife found him lying on a park footpath near their home.

“When Annie Willson came across her husband, she saw him on the floor, laying on his right side just off the path.

“Annie Willson described the blood as so thick it looked more like jam.

“He was making gasping breaths as if he was sucking air through clenched teeth,” Miss White said.

Mrs Willson was told by doctors his injuries were catastrophic and they did not believe he would survive.

Miss White said the boys approached a group of four teenage girls at a train station and demonstrated their vicious assault.

The jury were played CCTV footage showing what Miss White described as a re-enactment of the assault of Mr Willson as he was being airlifted to hospital.

One of the girls described to police how they were “bragging”, Miss White said.

“One of the boys was, in her view, mocking the situation, saying something like “oh he was on the floor, and someone was yelling please stop, please stop,” she said.

“She remarked that there did not appear to be any remorse and repeated that they were ‘bragging’, and that the second boy as she described them specifically was giggling and laughing when mocking.”

The jury heard a harrowing list of the horrific injuries.

He suffered brain damage skull fractures, facial fractures, damage to his eyes and rib fractures.

Mr Willson was kept in a coma.

“It is likely that Alan Willson will be left with significant and permanent neurological damage, which may be severe and life changing,” Miss White said.

Police were called to Whitebeam Road in Worthing at around 7.30pm on Easter Sunday last year after Mr Willson was found injured in the street following the assault in nearby Longcroft Park.

He was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton where he had brain surgery.

His rehabilitation is continuing at home.

HHJ Henson told the court all three will be sentenced later.

The judge told the jury: “Sentencing will not be today.

“I will be getting reports from a number of different sources before I sentence these three young defendants.”