Teen's lifeline taken

PUBLISHED: 09:00 23 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:36 25 May 2010

A 15-YEAR-OLD boy had his 'lifeline' wheelchair stolen and vandalised by thugs after a family gathering.

A 15-YEAR-OLD boy had his 'lifeline' wheelchair stolen and vandalised by thugs after a family gathering.

The Kings of Wessex School student, Tom Ainsworth, who has cerebral palsy, was with his parents at a get-together in Axbridge shortly before the incident happened.

They left the electric wheelchair near the door of the property in Starrs Close before going in.

When leaving at about 1am on December 29 they soon realised Tom's £11,500 electric wheelchair had disappeared.

His parents, full-time mum Louise, aged 39, dad Paul, a builder, aged 41, and their friends went out on foot with torches to look for the item.

Eventually the chair was found near The Square with several youths climbing on it.

Footprints were found on the arms, the mechanisms of the chair had been altered and the back of the seat had been bent and severely damaged.

Mrs Ainsworth of Wall Green, Axbridge, said: "Tom was totally bewildered by what was going on and we were all shocked.

"We never expected something like this to happen, especially in Axbridge.

"Thankfully his dad could make some minor repairs to allow him to use it again but we now have to wait for the insurance to be sorted before it is fully repaired."

Mrs Ainsworth said the damage will cost about £3,000 and that new parts will have to be especially made and imported.

Tom has a unique chair which allows him to raise and lower the height which is essential for school.

Mrs Ainsworth added: "The people that did this need to realise that this is Tom's lifeline.

"He needs this for getting around and for school and it is very important."

She also added that people in the town have been very supportive.

PC Tom Pether said that this was an isolated incident and that no one has yet been caught for the offence.

He said: "We hope the people that did this feel regretful and they may now wish to make amends."

Anyone with information should call police on 0845 4567000.

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