My 12-month fight for justice

Nineteen-year-old Jenna Pilkington who was attacked in St Helens town centre
Nineteen-year-old Jenna Pilkington who was attacked in St Helens town centre

A PROMISING dance student has spoken of her 12-month fight for justice after she was attacked outside a popular St Helens nightspot.

Jenna Pilkington, 19, was making her way home from the Venue bar on Westfield Street when she was set upon by a gang of drunk girls.

Jenna shortly after she was attacked by Jessica Parr

Jenna shortly after she was attacked by Jessica Parr

The popular student suffered a black eye, broken nose and suspected perforated ear drum following the savage attack, which also left her struggling to adjust to life at university.

Last week, her assailant, 20-year-old Jessica Parr, of Clarks Crescent, Eccleston, was found guilty at St Helens Magistrates’ Court of common assault - which carries a maximum sentence of six months jail - bringing an end to a 12-month battle for justice for Jenna and her close-knit family.

Parr - who pleaded her innocence despite overwhelming CCTV evidence - could face jail when she returns to the court for sentencing on October 1.

“We were just leaving the bar and some of my party were talking about going on to someone else’s house when this girl just went for my cousin,” recalls Jenna. “I hadn’t been drinking because I was working the next day so I tried to put my arms in between them. The next thing, I’m being punched in the face. She (Parr) hit me hard on the nose. I fell on the floor but as I knelt there she ran over to me and punched me again in the face.”

Because of Parr’s refusal to admit her guilt, brave Jenna, of Lesley Road, Thatto Heath, was forced recall the assault in graphic details during a trial.

And her courtroom ordeal was made even more harrowing by a decision to hold the hearing in one of the smaller courts, where Jenna was sat just yards from her attacker.

“She was glaring at me the whole time trying to intimidate me,” said Jenna, a former De La Salle pupil. “I just had to concentrate on giving my evidence.”

Jenna’s nightmare began on October 8 last year. Shortly before she left home to start a dance degree at Liverpool John Moore University, she and a group of family and friends were on night out in St Helens when, towards the end of the evening, a group of other girls, including Parr, approached Jenna’s party.

When a petty squabble involving Jenna’s cousin and a friend of Parr’s turned nasty, Jenna took the fateful decision to intervene.

“None of our group had been drinking much, and I hadn’t been drinking at all so I thought I could calm the situation but I ended up on the receiving end,” said Jenna.

“I don’t know Parr although I’ve heard of her by reputation and from my encounter with her it’s clear to me she has a really violent temper.”

Jenna is now preparing to embark on her second year at university and hopes to eventually become a dance teacher, but admits she has struggled to move on since the assault.

She added: “I had a really massive black eye and I had to start university the next week. It left me so self-conscious and I found it really hard to make friends.

“I was ‘the girl with the black eye’, I found it really hard. My nose was broken but it wasn’t picked up at first so that had consequences.

“I’ve suffered and none of this was my fault, I was just on a night out with friends minding my own business. You just don’t think this sort of thing will happen to you.”