An autistic boy was attacked by a group of bullies and left with a piece of wood hanging from his head by a nail. (Warning: The photos below are graphic.)
Romeo Smith, 9, had to go to the hospital because of the brutal injury, according to the Independent. Romeo's parents said that the attack came after weeks of bullying.
On the day of the attack, at least three boys chased Romeo until he climbed a tree and then taunted him with sticks. One of the boys allegedly threw a plank of wood with a nail sticking out of it at Romeo, the New York Post reports.
Romeo's mother, Natasha, had been walking him home when the attack took place. She said she thought her son was just trailing behind her.
"Romeo had lagged slightly behind," said the mom. "It's usual for him to trail behind me a bit, he does it a lot because of his autism and it's something I'm used to him doing. He likes to stop and look at things. So I was ahead of him slightly."
When Natasha got back to their home, she realized that Romeo was not behind her. The boy's father, Craig, went out to look for him.
Craig found Romeo in the tree with the boys taunting him. As the father and son were walking home, one of the boys reportedly threw the plank of wood at Romeo's head.
"I saw it just stuck there, in the back of his head, and then Romeo started screaming and running towards me," said Craig.
At the hospital, doctors treated Romeo with antibiotics.
"He is a very lucky little boy, because it could have been more serious," said Natasha. "I don't know whether it had anything to do with his autism, but I think they did see him as vulnerable."
"If I could speak to the boys responsible I would tell them to stop bullying others," she added. "I would tell them to stop the name calling and the violence. I don't want this to happen to another child."
The Nottingham Police's youth offending team is reported to be investigating the incident.
"We recognize that children sometimes do things without considering the consequences or the seriousness of their actions," said the department in a statement.
"In cases such as this, where genuine remorse is shown and there is an understanding of the consequences of their actions, we try to mediate between both parties to avoid progressing down the criminal justice route," continued the department's statement.