Norwich man turns his life around after vicious assault
- Credit: Bill Smith - Archant
The shocking, life-changing effects a violent physical attack have today been laid bare by a man who was driven to the brink of suicide after being assaulted in front of his terrified family.
As a result of the attack Darren Lake was diagnosed with epilepsy and left unable to work, which plunged him into depression. But thanks to the support of his family and mental health services, he has turned his life back around again.
The attack happened when Mr Lake was in his car, close to where he used to live in West Earlham.
A man leant in through the window and started a savage beating as his family watched on helplessly.
He said: 'The car window was half way down and he just came through the car window and hit me on the left hand side of the head behind my left ear.
'My step-daughter was in the back witnessing it.'
His then fiancée, Kathryn, who was driving, said: 'We were driving home and got stopped coming into our road.
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'A lad came through the window of the car and beat him [Mr Lake] so badly in front of me and my daughter Willow that he had to be admitted to hospital.'
She added: 'It was absolutely terrifying. The thing is I wasn't able to drive. You've got this man coming into the car assaulting my then fiancé and my daughter in the back. It just seemed to last forever.
'I feel guilty sometimes because I was the driver and I froze. I tried to release his seatbelt to get him out of the car. He was a sitting duck. I felt helpless.'
A Norfolk police spokesman confirmed there was an incident of assault in George Fox Way in 2011 following which a man was charged with two counts of assault.
The violent attack was only the start of an ordeal which plunged Mr Lake into a dark depression, nearly costing him his own life in the process.
Following the assault in 2011 the former CNS School pupil, who lives at Fiddlewood Road, Norwich, with his wife Kathryn, 32, her nine-year-old daughter and their 15-month-old son Edward, suffered from severe headaches which was later diagnosed as epilepsy.
He said: 'I had head aches and my memory started going. My balance started going and I got taken into hospital. They said I had epilepsy and my driving license got taken away.'
The epilepsy diagnosis meant Mr Lake, who also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, could no longer drive and as a result he would lose his job as a mobile tyre fitter.
He said: 'I couldn't do the job I was doing. I had worked since I was 16. There's a lot of stigma when you're not working and claiming benefits.'
Mr Lake, who married his wife in 2012, said he also had the wedding to try and pay for and became more and more depressed.
He said: 'I started not going out the house. I was moody with people and started becoming depressed. I'd had enough. I felt I wasn't living but just existing. I ran away and tried to commit suicide.'
Mr Lake, who had previously thought about 'jumping in front of a bus or a train' said he went to a hotel intent on taking an overdose after what he described as 'the darkness' descended. But fortunately Mrs Lake saved him.
He said: 'That's when she called the police and they found me on Drayton Road. She had tracked my iPhone from my iPad.'
It proved to be a real turning point in all their lives and after receiving help from mental health services Mr Lake is in the process of turning his life around and wants to help others do the same.
Have you turned your life around after being a victim of crime? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email firstname.lastname@example.org