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Ryan Walker due in court over alleged attack on girls in Hinkler Green, Thornhill, Southampton
A TEENAGER is due in court today over an alleged attack on three teenage girls in a Southampton park.
Two of the youngsters, aged just 15 and 16, were said to have been left with serious head and facial injuries after being subjected to an alleged assault at a city skate park.
Families of the alleged victims joined police in calling for calm amid fears of vigilante-style reprisals following the alleged attack, in Hinkler Green, Thornhill.
At one point the father of one of the girls posted a picture on a social media website purporting to show the gruesome injuries suffered by his daughter.
Outraged residents and community leaders have told of their shock at news of the alleged attack.
Ryan Walker, 18, from Chettle Road, has been charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm, attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm, common assault and possession of a bladed article.
He has been in custody since his arrest on Saturday and will appear at Southampton Magistrates’ Court today. Police said the girls were in a communal area of a block of flats in Chettle Road in the hours before their alleged ordeal.
A man spoke to them on the stairs and there was an exchange of words.
The girls then went to the skate park at Hinkler Green, where there was an altercation.
Two of the girls were then allegedly assaulted and suffered serious facial and head injuries, detectives say.
The Daily Echo understands that a passer-by interrupted the alleged attack, which happened at about 9pm on Friday. The attacker then fled.
The pair were rushed to Southampton General Hospital for treatment, while the third girl, aged 15, who was also allegedly assaulted, was treated for minor injuries.
An area of the park was cordoned off while investigations got under way and police maintained a high presence in the area as tensions grew on the estate.
The incident sparked widespread outrage in the community leading police and the families of the girls to appeal for calm as emotions ran high throughout the weekend.
In a joint message, they said: “We’d like to thank members of the community for coming forward with information and for the support they’ve given us.
“However, we now need to remain calm and let the police get on with the investigation.” Inspector Chris Spellerberg said at the time that an “extensive investigation” was under way.
“Members of the community should remember that any vigilante-type attacks or incitement of that type of activity will not be tolerated,” he said.
“This also applies for comments made on social media. Anyone suspected of committing a criminal offence will be dealt with appropriately.”
Patrols were stepped up in the area over the weekend, with officers from the Safer Neighbourhoods Team available to offer advice and reassurance to members of the community.
Community leaders also appealed for calm, urging residents to help the police carry out their investigation.
Southampton City Council leader Simon Letts, who represents the area, urged people to “stay calm and leave it to the police to sort it out”.
“This is shocking, but Thornhill is a place where incidents like this are the exception, not the norm,” he told the Daily Echo.
“A lot of people have told me Thornhill has improved massively over the past decade, and in the eight years I have been a councillor for the area I can only remember a handful of incidents.”
Trixie Neilson, from the Thornhill Community Association, said: “I was shocked and disgusted to think something like this could happen to three young girls, although I would be shocked to hear it had happened to anybody.
“I think it has had a big impact on the community here.”