A train passenger was left partially blinded after stepping in to help a ticket inspector who was being heckled by yobs.
The attack happened when three men who boarded at Brighton’s London Road station without tickets became aggressive after being confronted by the inspector.
Detective Constable Nigel Craig, one of the investigating officers, said: “The group then became aggressive with a nearby passenger, who had offered to assist the conductor by taking photographs of them on his mobile phone.
“The passenger and the group of men left the train at Falmer but two of the men attacked the passenger on the platform, with one headbutting him in his right eye while the other bit one of his fingers.”
The three men then fled the station. The victim, a 47-year-old from Whyteleafe, Surrey, was forced to attend the specialist eye clinic at Mayday University Hospital in Croydon following the attack as it had left him with impaired vision in his right eye.
He was later discharged but the long-term effects of the attack will not be known until detectives receive a medical statement from the hospital.
From a conversation the conductor had with one of the men, detectives believe they may be from the Shoreham area.
DC Craig said: “The men launched a vicious attack on the victim simply because he stood up to their aggressive behaviour.
“We’ve conducted a number of local enquiries as part of our investigation into this incident and I ask anyone who recognises any of the men pictured in the CCTV images to come forward.
“I would like to reassure members of the public that although these types of offence are rare they are treated very seriously by investigators and we won’t rest until we have made an arrest.
“Sadly there is a minority who believe it is acceptable to behave in a criminal and violent manner and we will do everything in our power to bring them to justice.”
Anyone with any information about the attack or who recognises any of the men pictured in the CCTV images is asked to contact British Transport Police on Freefone 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference B2 of 17/02/10 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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