Dagenham girl, 11, nearly blinded after ‘rock’ thrown at her in random attack inside Becontree Heath Leisure Centre

Hannah Syers, pictured with parents Keith and Ruth, suffered a cut to her face after being hit with

Hannah Syers, pictured with parents Keith and Ruth, suffered a cut to her face after being hit with a stone in a seemingly random attack at Becontree Leisure Centre. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

A leisure centre operator has apologised after a Dagenham girl nearly lost sight in one eye after being pelted with a stone in a public swimming pool.

Hannah Syers, pictured with parents Keith and Ruth, suffered a cut to her face after being hit with

Hannah Syers, pictured with parents Keith and Ruth, suffered a cut to her face after being hit with a stone in a seemingly random attack at Becontree Leisure Centre. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Hannah Syers, 11, was paddling with a friend in Becontree Heath Leisure Centre on Friday when she was struck by a stone in a seemingly random attack.

“I was on the edge of the swimming pool,” she told the Post.

“I just felt a sharp edge hit the corner of my eye. It hurt really bad.”

While Hannah was helped out of the water and given first aid, her attacker ran off.

The stone that hit Hannah, with pencil for scale. Picture: Ruth Syers

The stone that hit Hannah, with pencil for scale. Picture: Ruth Syers - Credit: Ruth Syers


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A note at the leisure centre, seen by the Post, describes him as a white 13 or 14-year-old boy who was wearing black and white striped shorts.

“I was home at the time, doing some work around the house and playing with my other daughter,” said Hannah’s dad, Keith.

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“I got a phone call saying my daughter’s been injured. It was only when I got up there I found that she’s had a stone thrown at her face. It was very, very disconcerting.”

The 53-year-old rushed her to A&E at King George Hospital, where she received three stitches but escaped serious injuries.

Doctors said she would have lost vision in one eye if the stone hit her just half a centimetre to the right.

However, her parents, who live in Valence Circus, fear their daughter’s attacker will never be caught with suspects identified so far.

Police called to the pool in Althorne Way the following day discovered the leisure centre has not had CCTV coverage for two months.

Amar Varsani, general manager of Everyone Active, who manage the centre for Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “The safety of our customers is our number one priority, and we take all incidents like this extremely seriously. The police have been informed and are investigating the matter. We are working closely with them to aid their investigation and to identify those involved.

“Unfortunately, CCTV at the centre was not in operation at the time due to a fault with the system. We were already aware of this issue and are working with our contractors to rectify it as soon as possible. We expect the CCTV to be operational within the next few days.

“I would urge anyone who has information about the incident to contact the police. We are in contact with the young swimmer’s family and would like to take this opportunity to apologise that she was involved in an incident at our centre and wish her a speedy recovery.”

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