A 12-year-old boy allegedly bashed by five high school students while walking home from school, was so badly injured his mother thought he'd been hit by a car.
Cherie Irving, of Hastings, said her son, Azaleas Quenton, was walking home with his bike on Friday afternoon when he was attacked from behind in Akina Park.
Azaleas was allegedly hit by an older boy and his head was smashed onto the handlebars of his bike. He fell to the ground, where the alleged assailants repeatedly kicked and stomped on him.
It is believed five teens were involved: three girls and two boys, all high school students.
Ms Irving said Azaleas was knocked out by the initial blow and when he came to, the attackers were kicking him in the head.
The boys went through his school bag while the girls kicked him in the ribs.
Ms Irving said scrapes on her son's legs might indicate he was also dragged.
After searching his bag the attackers fled the scene.
Azaleas walked from Akina Park to Queens Square, where students noticed his injuries and took him into a residence to call an ambulance.
Meanwhile, Ms Irving was sitting at home with a friend, beginning to worry about how long it was taking Azaleas to walk home from school.
When emergency services brought him inside, she was shocked and confused.
"My initial thought was he'd been hit by a car and fallen on to the road.
"The police said, 'He's actually been attacked', and I freaked out."
Azaleas didn't know any of his alleged attackers. "He's got no idea who they are. He's such a placid boy - he wouldn't hurt a fly."
Ms Irving said Azaleas' face was so swollen he hadn't been able to eat properly and was drinking through a straw. He had "gone into his shell" since the incident.
"He's going to need counselling. He said to me he's so confused - he asked me, 'Why'?" A photo shared on Facebook showed Azaleas' face was swollen, bloodied and bruised as a result of the beating.
People took to the comments section to share their outrage at the brazen daylight assault.
"I find this appalling, cowardly and disgusting," one commenter said. "Our kids can't even go out on the streets and be safe these days. I hope the people involved are found and dealt with accordingly."
"Disgusting," another said. "What is going on with people when an innocent boy can't walk home safely."
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