A 16-year-old boy was left needing surgery after a “totally unprovoked” attack in which his skull was fractured.
Mitchell Rutterford, who lives in Houghton Regis and is a student at All Saints Academy, Dunstable, has been suffering seizures since the assault.
He was walking home along Sundon Road, Houghton Regis, with three friends at 12.30am on Saturday when they were approached by a man in his 20s.
He asked the boys if they had a cigarette and when they said they did not, the man smacked Mitchell in the side of the head and ran off.
Debbie Rutterford, Mitchell’s mother, said: “Mitchell did not realise how serious the injury was at first. He went to a friend’s house to clean it up and then came home.
“When he got home we took him straight to the hospital. They kept him in overnight and he had the wound stapled up with four staples.
“I asked them to do a CT scan, which showed a fractured skull and bruising to the brain.
“He had to be transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for surgery. We got there on Saturday night and he had the operation on Monday morning. They lifted his skull and there was just one break.”
Mrs Rutterford added: “He has had slurred speech since the incident and he has been dribbling. It is like he has suffered a stroke, his face and fingers keep going numb and he has had seizures.
“Since coming out of surgery he has had another seizure, but I believe that is common after surgery.
“Mitchell has been left with a three-inch scar on the side of his head and he is on tablets for the seizures and antibiotics.”
The teenager was hit with an open palm and it is believed that the attacker had a sharp object in his hand which caused the injury.
Mrs Rutterford said: “We are hoping that someone has some information about who did this to my son. It is a horrible, unprovoked attack on a young lad who simply said no to having a cigarette.
“He did not recognise his attacker. Mitchell has lived here all his life and you get to know the local people. He does not think he is from the area, but cannot be sure.”
Det Con Rebecca Kitts, from the Serious Crime Investigation team, said: “A teenager has been left with a serious injury as a result of this totally unprovoked attack, which took place in a residential area.
“Assaults like this are not tolerated and I am appealing to anyone who saw a man matching this description in the Sundon Road area at this time to get in touch.”
The attacker has been described as white, of average height and wearing a ripped T-shirt.
Contact Det Con Kitts using the police non-emergency number 101, or text 07786 200 011, if you have any information.
Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.