Sonisphere rock metal festival assault leaves ‘happy-go-lucky’ 21-year-old with horrific injuries needing five hours of surgery

George Cook was attacked by a gang of three who were believed to have jumped the festival’s perimeter fence

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The Independent Online

A 21-year-old music fan has had to undergo five hours of reconstructive surgery after he was violently assaulted in an “unprovoked” attack at a rock metal festival.

George Cook had been enjoying the first day of the Sonisphere Festival at Knebworth Park in Hertfordshire with a group of work colleagues when he was subjected to the brutal assault, described by police as the only “serious incident” over the course of the weekend.

The victim’s father, Andy Bullen, posted an image showing the horrific damage to his son’s face on Twitter and issued an appeal for anyone with information to come forward.

Speaking to the Epsom Guardian, a friend of Mr Cook said the “happy-go-lucky” builder’s merchant had been on his own inside the Red 2 campsite at the festival when a gang of three men broke through the perimeter fence to attack him.

“They attacked him unprovoked,” said Reece O’Brien, 20. “They knocked down a small fence to get to him, that’s how badly they wanted to hurt him. They left him on the floor and people found him.”

Fellow festival-goers expressed their shock at the incident, which occurred between 0.30am and 2am in the early hours of Saturday morning.

One Twitter user wrote: “[You] certainly don't expect this sort of thing to happen at a festival such as Sonisphere,” while another said on Facebook: “Metal heads don’t do that to each other.”

Friday night at the festival included performances from Limp Bizkit and Him, and was headlined by The Prodigy. After he was picked up by his father and taken to hospital, Mr Cook missed out on Saturday and Sunday shows from Iron Maiden and Metallica.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, Sonisphere said: “We’ve had an update from Andy, the father of the guy who was assaulted on Friday night, and we’re pleased to pass on that he is back home and recovering.

“He is feeling positive and taking a lot of strength from the overwhelming support from other Sonisphere fans on Twitter and Facebook.”

On Monday Hertfordshire Police thanked the thousands of police festival-goers who “came to the event to enjoy themselves”.

Of the incident involving Mr Cook, a spokesperson said: “One serious incident occurred which saw a 21 year old man from Surrey suffering serious injuries following an assault in the Red 2 campsite on Friday night (July 4). He received injuries to his face and jaw which require surgery.

“It is believed three offenders were involved in this assault. If anyone has any information about this incident they should call Herts Police on 101 quoting crime reference number G1/14/1678 or if you don’t want to give your name, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”