The family of a 12-year-old boy who was allegedly assaulted with a paddle at a river park by a woman have hit out at police for failing to take firm action.
The boy, named Antwon, who is autistic, had been playing with friends at Conham River Park in Brislington, Bristol, in March when they were involved in an altercation with a woman in a paddle boat who accused them of throwing stones.
Antwon's aunt shared photos on her Instagram profile of her nephew's bloodied face and cut forehead as well as a video of the woman confronting his friends after hitting him with the paddle.
She wrote: "On the 26th of March I was devastated to receive this picture of my nephew. He and his friends had been playing at a lake in Bristol when this lady accused and attacked my nephew with the paddle of her boat for throwing stones which he didn’t even throw!!
"I am VERY upset to see that my brother has received a letter explaining they (the police) aren’t doing anything about this matter!!"
According to the boy's family, and confirmed in a letter from police, the woman admitted pushing the 12-year-old with the paddle in her hand, leaving him with a deep cut.
She was arrested, but then de-arrested, according to police, prompting the boy's family to hit out against Avon & Somerset Constabulary for their lack of action.
Ty Forrest described the impact the incident had had on his son Antwon and his disappointment at a letter the family had received from police on 14 April telling them no further action would be taken against the woman.
He said: "It's a kick in the teeth that nothing has happened. I knew she wasn't going to jail or anything like that but I thought that it might have at least gone on her record or she'd be given a fine.
"If the police could have got some sort of resolution to it, it would have been better, but this is disappointing. I don't want my son to live the rest of his life believing that there are no consequences to things like this.
"We have been getting a lot of support from people since it happened back in March and Antwon's lived with it. We keep reassuring him but he's scared and upset and we're upset that nothing's been done."
In the letter from police, which was included in Antwon's aunt's Instagram post, Avon and Somerset Police said: "unfortunately the decision has been made to take no further action in this case".
It went on to say: "The main reason for this is that during interview the suspect raised a possibility for self-defence. By this we mean that the suspect admitted pushing Antwon and when pushing him she had the paddle in her hand and this contacted with his head.
"The suspect claimed she pushed Antwon away because he challenged her and she felt threatened by him and the surrounding group. Unfortunately the witness statement we have supports the suspect striking Antwon on the head when she pushed him back.
"Also the CCTV we have does not capture the assault. I am sorry about this decision, I know it will be disappointing."
Police have now issued a renewed statement saying they will reopen the case and are urging witnesses to come forward.
In a statement to Yahoo News UK on 5 May, a spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police: "Officers attended after a call reporting that a woman had hit a child with a paddle on the riverside near Wyndham Crescent, Bristol at about 3pm on Saturday 26 March.
"A 12-year-old boy had sustained a head injury which required gluing. The incident was taken seriously and a woman was initially arrested at the scene before being de-arrested in line with Police and Criminal Evidence Act guidelines.
"A woman was subsequently interviewed on suspicion of assault causing actual bodily harm. Officers took a statement from the child and an adult family friend and viewed footage from after the assault.
"After reviewing the available evidence officers believed that there was no realistic prospect of a conviction and made all parties aware there would be no further action.
"When police decide not to prosecute, victims have a right to request that a review is completed by an officer not previously involved in the case.
"Since becoming aware of the injured boy's family's concerns through social media, officers have been in touch with them and initiated a review. We will maintain that contact as the review progresses.
"We’d ask anyone who witnessed the incident to call 101 and give the reference 5222071897."