Teen set to face charges after bashing

RECOVERING: Mathew Lenton, who was attacked as he made his way home on Monday, with his mother Ashley. A FORMER Gateshead mother has expressed her relief after police captured a teenager who allegedly bashed her autistic son in Tamworth.

Ashley Lenton said she had been overwhelmed with support after her 23-year-old son Mathew Lenton – who once attended Lakeside Special School – was set upon when he walked home on Monday.

Police were quick to swoop on the alleged offender, a 16-year-old boy who was arrested at a South Tamworth home late Tuesday night.

The boy has been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and intimidation and police will allege he punched Mr Lenton in the face, threw a football that left him with a bleeding nose, pushed him to the ground and kicked him in the back.

Officers were quick to inform Mr Lenton of the developments in his case, hopefully allowing him to breathe a little easier.

‘‘He’s doing a lot better than what he was,’’ said Ms Lenton, who lived in Gateshead for 18 years before moving to Tamworth three years ago.

Mr Lenton was happy police made an arrest.

The arrest came less than 24 hours after the cowardly hit on Mathew when he walked to his mother’s house in South Tamworth.

The keen drawer, who is rarely seen without a pencil and pad in his hand, suffered bruising, swelling, a bleeding nose and a few bumps in the attack.

‘‘His confidence was knocked for a six … he’s still a bit cautious about going out but it will get better,’’ Ms Lenton said.

‘‘I couldn’t leave him at all, he was still a bit nervous, still a bit traumatised about it, still a bit stressed but he’ll be fine.’’

And while the family is hoping to move on from the incident, they won’t let it taint the town they call home.

The attack has garnered intense social media interest and dominated news headlines but police are urging the public to remain cautious.

‘‘I’m aware there is widespread social media publication associated with the incident,’’ Oxley Crime Manager Inspector Phil O’Reilly said.

‘‘I urge community members not to publish any further information and allow this matter to be properly dealt with by the court.’’

The 16-year-old defendant has been released on strict conditional bail to appear in Tamworth Children’s Court next month.