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Assault victim determined to walk down aisle after being left wheelchair bound
A BMX rider left brain damaged and wheelchair bound after a horrifying unprovoked street attack is determined to walk down the aisle and marry his girlfriend later this year.
Jamie McKechnie, 25, was given just a 30 per cent chance of survival by doctors after receiving a single punch to the head, and nine months later is still largely confined to hospital.
His attacker, 25-year-old Andrew Ellis, of Martins Road, Shortlands, was jailed for three years on Friday after being found guilty of causing GBH at Croydon Crown Court.
The attack, which happened at the junction of Station Road and Beckenham Lane, Shortlands, at about 10.45pm on August 15 last year, left Mr McKechnie in a coma for nine weeks.
Now, unable to walk and with limited ability to talk, the former handyman spends most of his week at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in Putney, only going home to his fiancee Ellen Murphy at weekends.
Miss Murphy, 26, said: "It’s definitely changed our lives forever. The recovery will go on for years, there’s no end point. It’s a case of never stopping and giving up.
"It feels like a prison sentence. He hates going back to the hospital on a Monday, he just wants to come home. I know it’s in his best interests but it doesn’t get any easier.
"He’ll never be able to work again and he may not be able to walk again."
Mr McKechie has been in rehab for six months, and spoke for the first time in five months two days before Christmas.
After Miss Murphy proposed to him in February, he is determined to walk himself down the aisle when they get married.
Miss Murphy added: "When you get so close to losing someone you realise how important it is. We were always going to get married and it means we have something to look forward to.
"His mum brought in her old engagement ring until he can buy me one but I don’t care, he could get me an onion ring and I would be happy.
"It’s difficult but at the end of the day he’s the love of my life and you can’t just be there for the good times.
"He used to be such a strong guy, so confident and independent. Now he has to depend on me and his parents for the most basic things.
"But I don’t know anyone else who would be able to handle it so well. He’s still smiling and getting on."
Mr McKechnie, who spoke to News Shopper with the help of his fiancee, said: "I'll never forgive the man who did this. I can't walk and I can't talk properly. I'm worried about what life will be in the future.
"But I'm happy I have Ellen. I just want to walk down the aisle, I don't want her to have to push me."
Reaction to sentencing
Reacting to the sentencing of Ellis, who will probably serve only half his three year sentence in prison, Jamie's mum, Linda Wilson, 48, said: "The fact that his attacker will just do 18 months is disgusting.
"Jamie isn’t going to be right in 18 months.
"If I see Andrew Ellis when he gets out I will probably spit in his face for what he’s done."