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Fundraiser for young dad left traumatised after random knife attack in south London

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A south London mother has told of her son’s struggle to rebuild his life after he was stabbed in a random attack.

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Brett Connolly, 26, was heading home after seeing a friend when he was brutally knifed outside a neighbour’s house in Rock Close, Mitcham.

He was rushed to hospital where doctors initially gave him a two per cent chance of survival, his mum told the Standard.

He has made a “miraculous” physical recovery since the stabbing on July 23 but is finding it harder and harder to cope psychologically, Felicity Connolly, 66, explained.

Felicity Connolly (right) said Brett (left) had lost around three stone since the attack due to eating difficulties (Felicity Connolly)

“Horrific doesn’t come close to describing what he’s been through,” she said.

“He was stabbed through the cheek, down the back of his throat and again in his leg with a Rambo knife. He can’t speak properly at the moment because his voice box has been damaged, he can’t eat solid foods and he can’t work.

“There’s a long road ahead in terms of getting him physically back on track, but what we’re really focused on is getting him help to tackle his PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).”

Ms Connolly and her family are raising money to get private counselling for the dad-of-one, who is fighting to come to terms with what happened to him.

“The whole thing was such a shock. This is a close knit neighbourhood – we’ve never had any problems with violence. Brett just can’t make sense of it.”

“He’s never been affiliated with gangs or anything like that. He’s had a job ever since he left college and has always just been friendly and laid back with everyone.”

The GoFundMe page aims to raise at least £2,000 to cover the cost of private counselling for Brett (Anne Connolly, GoFundMe)

The 66-year-old said her son has been unable to get the urgent mental health support he needs due to long waiting times for specialist care.

“He has a five-year-old son, he has a partner, he wants to get better but there’s a three to four-month waiting list to the right psychological help on the NHS – that’s why we’re raising funds to get him seen privately.”

Mr Connolly was working as an air conditioning engineer before the summer attack.

Nerve damage and torn ligaments in his left foot caused by the stabbing mean he won’t be able to return to his job until January “at the earliest,” his mother explained.

She said: “His employer’s been amazing – really supportive. They’ve said he can come back as soon as he’s ready, but they can’t help him financially in the meantime.

“All he’s getting is £50 a week in sick pay, but he has a little boy to support.”

Brett Connolly and his son Riley, 5, before the July attack (Felicity Connolly )

She said the family hadn’t told Mr Connolly’s son Riley, 5, the details of what happened. Instead, they said his dad had been in a car accident.

“But he doesn’t understand why Brett has changed so much. He keeps asking: ‘Why is Daddy upset? Why is Daddy crying?” Ms Connolly explained.

Mr Connolly is currently living with his mother, who has taken time off as a support worker for domestic abuse victims at Wimbledon CID to help care for her son.

“My job involves helping people who have suffered terrible violence, but I’m still coming to terms with violence in my own family,” she said.

“It’s made us all so anxious, but Brett’s the one who really needs a safe space where he can talk about what he’s suffered.

She offered praise to the NHS, saying she “could not thank the trauma team at St George’s hospital enough” for saving her youngest son’s life.

“They described Brett as a ‘miracle man’,” she said. 

“They thought that if he survived, he would either be brain damaged or paralysed, but he made it out of intensive care within a week.”

Mr Connolly is undergoing speech and language therapy and has a range of different aftercare procedures ahead of him, but he needs to be fit mentally to face the ongoing physical challenges. 

“He fought tooth and nail to survive that attack,” she said. “Now he needs the chance to start living again.”

Met Police confirmed that no arrests have yet been made in connection with the incident, but confirmed Mr Connolly was “not the intended target of the attack”.

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