Shropshire stabbing victim learning to speak and cycle again after life-changing attack
A young Shropshire man who technically died after being stabbed four times during a brutal and unprovoked attack has spoken about how the injuries have changed his life.
The attack, which happened on a night out with friends in Birmingham, has left 23-year-old Chris Flood unable to work, walk or speak properly.
But Mr Flood, from Stanton, near Shrewsbury, said an electrically-assisted tricycle paid for with money raised from a crowd-funding campaign, was now helping him to regain some independence and means he can again enjoy his love of cycling.
Mr Flood was attacked in the Selly Oak area of Birmingham in October last year by two teenagers trying to steal his friend’s car.
He, along with a group of other friends, had been visiting some old schoolmates who were studying at Birmingham University.
Earlier this month a 15-year-old boy was sentenced to 18 years in custody after admitting attempted murder and six attempted robberies.
His 17-year-old accomplice was given a 50-month sentence after admitting the robbery charges.
Mr Flood spent more than two months in hospital, and was in a medically induced state of unconsciousness for two-and-a-half weeks after the incident.
The attack in Heeley Road, during the early hours of October 7 last year, left him with severe long-term disabilities. His mother Yvonne said it was not yet known whether he would make a full recovery.
He is slowly regaining his ability to speak, and managed to say that the thing he missed most as a result of his injuries was not being able to drive his car.
At the time of the attack he had just begun work as an apprentice plumber, and said he was really enjoying it.
Mrs Flood added: “He had found the job with a neighbour and had just started college, where he was studying heating engineering, and he loved it,” she said.
She added: “He was also a very keen BMX rider.”
Mrs Flood said her son was now rediscovering his love of cycling after a crowd-funding appeal raised more than £6,000 to pay for a specially adapted electrically-assisted tricycle.
Mr Flood was a passenger in a car with a group of friends driving from one student house to another when they became aware they were being followed by two youths in another car.
The friends were about to enter a house via a side alleyway when the youths approached them demanding their car keys.
“Chris’s friend was trying to get into the house when they threatened him,” said Mrs Flood.
“He didn’t have the car keys, so he gave them the house key, and Chris was in the middle.”
She said her son was now receiving physiotherapy and speech therapy to aid with his recovery.
“People have said they are amazed at how quickly he has recovered, but it feels very slow,” she said.
Battling back and still smiling
The first thing that strikes you about Christian Flood is the smile. It’s infectious.
For somebody who has been through so much, and still does not really know what the future holds, his cheery demeanour is remarkable.
Christian, or Chris as he likes to be known, saw his life turned upside down when the stabbing left him with kidney failure, a bleed on the brain, and he technically died in the aftermath of the incident.
And while his powers of recovery have amazed medics, the incident has left the 23-year-old struggling to speak or walk.
He is able to communicate – he can understand the questions put to him, and reply through a combination of words, sign language and his cheery smile – but the road to recovery still looks long and difficult.
Chris suffered the life-changing injuries during a visit to see some friends studying at Birmingham University in October last year.
“He was part of a group of friends who would get together regularly,” says his mother, Yvonne, who is business manager at St Mary’s CE Primary School in Shawbury.
Mrs Flood recalls dropping her son off at a friend’s house on the day he headed down to Birmingham, telling him to change his shoes before he went out at night, because the ones he was wearing looked a bit scruffy.
“It was a normal thing that they did, he had been down there before,” she says. Some of them went to watch West Bromwich Albion play Reading in the afternoon, but Chris was not interested in football and chose to go shopping in the city’s Bull Ring centre instead.
Later that evening, they went to a friend’s house to watch a boxing match, and afterwards Chris and two others headed to another friend’s house nearby.
“One of the lads is a Muslim, and doesn’t drink, so he offered to drive,” says Mrs Flood.
“They were followed by these two youths in another car. When they parked up to go into the house, these other two lads followed them down the side entrance, they wanted the car.”
She says a knife was produced, but the young man they were threatening was not the driver of the car.
Chris, who has no memory of the attack, was stabbed four times in the chest, with one blow piercing his aorta and sending him into cardiac arrest.
'Like watching a film'
Mrs Flood, 55, remembers the telephone ringing at 6.45am the following morning.
“My husband came downstairs and dialled 1471, and it was a lad he had been with, he said ‘Christian’s been stabbed and taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham’.”
Mrs Flood realised the gravity of the situation when her husband Stewart called the hospital and spoke to a police officer.
“We got the impression things were not very good, and he asked us to go to our nearest police station so they could take us to the hospital under blue lights.”
The couple declined the offer and made their own way to the hospital, where they were greeted by a police officer who told them Chris was in theatre.
“It was only because he was five minutes down the road from QE, which is a fantastic trauma centre, that they were able save him,” says Mrs Flood.
“When we saw him for the first time, he was covered in tubes and wires, he was in the critical care unit. You can’t really take it all in, you just function. It is like watching a film.
“For two-and-a-half weeks he was in a medically induced unconscious state, he had to receive dialysis because it had messed up his kidneys.”
For almost seven weeks, Mr and Mrs Flood were forced to live in their camper van at a campsite near Birmingham, before Chris was transferred to West Park Hospital in Wolverhampton which allowed them to return home.
By this time, Chris was well enough to sit in a wheelchair, and Mrs Flood could take him on walks into the city centre, but it would be several more weeks before he was able to return home.
Chris had just started work as an apprentice plumber at the time of the attack, and was a keen BMX rider.
He is now able to walk slowly, but struggles with his balance. However, last week he was able to take delivery of a power-assisted tricycle which is giving him a new sense of freedom and independence.
“As soon as he sat in the trike, you should have seen his face,” Mrs Flood says.
Chris’s father Stewart set up a crowd-funding page, and the £6,000 funding target to buy a trike was raised in a matter of days.
Mrs Flood says it has restored some of her faith in human nature. “It’s been so humbling,” she says.
“People have been so generous, many of them people who don’t have much. There was a single mum who said she felt embarrassed that she could only put a fiver in.
“We have been quite emotional, and will be writing back to everybody who has supported us.
“We really didn’t expect people to be so generous.”