Plymouth Afghan hero faces a new battle for his health after club assault
A YOUNG serviceman who survived an IED blast in Afghanistan was left needing hospital treatment after being attacked in a city bar.
Tony Avory-Barker, a gunner with 29 Commando based at the Citadel, had only been in The Venue on Union Street for five minutes when he said he was assaulted.
Police are still investigating the incident, which took place at around 3.30am on Sunday.
Tony, who has been in the services since he was 16 and in 29 Commando for the past three-and-a-half years, now faces months of recovery after medical staff found he had suffered two fractures of his lower jaw.
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The gunner has already faced down the Taliban after being posted to Afghanistan in March last year. In September 2011 an improvised explosive device (IED) went off just three metres from him, leaving him with a perforated ear-drum.
Tony, aged 21, said: "I returned home in October 2011.
"I'm deaf in my left ear, but I've had trouble sleeping at night. I've been going through therapy, but I'm still struggling to sleep.
"I was very lucky – all I lost was my hearing and I'm not waiting for my hearing aid."
Following the incident at the club, Tony, from Peterborough, has been given two months leave to recover and will not be allowed to return to full duties for the next six months.
He said: "I can't do contact sport until I'm fully healed.
"The doctor at the hospital said he was surprised I wasn't knocked out and suffered more head damage. He's been a doctor for ten years and said the jaw fractures were the worst breaks he's seen.
"The doctor said I won't be able to feel my bottom lip or chin again. The attack stretched my jaw and killed the nerves.
"It's going to affect my career a little bit, but it all depends on how it heals."
Tony said he had gone to The Venue to meet a female friend and after saying hello popped into the gents toilets.
There he was confronted by three men. One grabbed his privates and twisted them while another began to beat him. A third also struck him, and urinated on the back of his legs.
Tony said: "I'd never seen them before. I put my hands up and said "what's this all about" but they just kept smacking me.
Anyone with information about the incident should call police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 quoting crime reference number EC/12/9356.
A 27-year-old man arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm has been bailed until December 17 pending further inquiries.
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