Rotherham schoolboy who was victim of happy slapping fighting back with martial arts classes

Video grab of Josh Cooper, 12 of Rotherham,
Video grab of Josh Cooper, 12 of Rotherham,

Schoolboy Josh Cooper feared for his life when a vicious gang attacked him in broad daylight in the middle of a town centre.

The callous ‘happy slapping’ mob then filmed the sickening assault on a mobile phone and posted it on Facebook for all to see.

Josh Cooper, 12 with mum Tracy Cooper, 32.

Josh Cooper, 12 with mum Tracy Cooper, 32.

The unprovoked attack happened when Josh was walking through his hometown of Wath in early September when a 15-year-old boy attacked him.

The attack left him with cuts and bruises and needing hospital treatment.

But now the brave 12-year-old is on the road to recovery and fighting back.

After reporting on the harrowing incident, the South Yorkshire Times has organised for the youngster to take self-defence classes.

He is due to start a three month course of free martial arts training at Andy Crittenden’s Martial Arts Centre in Balby.

Josh said: “I’m excited, I hope it will give me more confidence after what happened.

“I hope it never happens aagin but if it does hopefully I will be more prepared and be able to defend myself.”

Mum Tracy, a 32-year-old student midwife, said: “It should be really good to help boost his confidence.

“The support he has had since the attack has been amazing, from Andy Crittenden in particular, it has restored our faith in people.

“I want to say thank you to Andy, it shows that something good has hopefully come out of something so bad.

“Josh said to me afterwards that he felt a bit guilty that he didn’t fight back.

“But if he had not covered his head up I think he could have been killed.”

Josh is set to join sessions at the ‘Children’s Program Multi Skilled Martial Arts’ group held on Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays.

The sessions will see him learning a blend of kicks and punches that will incorporate tae kwon do, kickboxing, wrestling, ju-jitsu and kenpo karate.

Miss Cooper called for a harsher punishment for Josh’s attacker, who was handed a caution for the offence.

A spokeswoman for South Yorkshire Police said: “A 14-year-old boy (he’s now 15) from Wath was given a youth caution in relation to an incident on Tuesday 8 September 2015. At about 6.45pm on 8 September it was reported that the boy assaulted a 12-year-old boy in Montgomery Square.”

A spokeswoman from the CPS added: “This matter was handled by South Yorkshire Police who dealt with it by way of a youth caution.”