A film producer brought the thugs who attacked and robbed him to justice after he tracked them down using Facebook.
Jonathan Rawstrone, who goes by the name Jonny Raw, was beaten up in the street shortly after he had shared a drink with his attackers and thanked one of them, a soldier, for serving his country.
The determined victim spent 48 hours on his computer using a combination of social network sites and information from friends in Preston to track down soldier Matthew Lakeland and Ben Craig before reporting them to detectives.
After telling the police about the attack he decided to use the information he had gleaned from the pair during their earlier conversation by trawling through Facebook accounts of mutual friends.
Eventually he found their profiles online and was able to pass on their details to police who then arrested serving soldier Lakeland, 21, who is based in Catterick in North Yorkshire, and Craig, 19, of Lower Bank Road in Fulwood, Preston.
Both pleaded guilty to a charge of actual bodily harm at Preston Crown Court and are now awaiting sentencing on February 20.
Today Mr Rawstrone, 35, of Marsh Lane in the city, recalled the horrific attack which happened in May 2011, just after he had moved into the city from his home town of Kirkham, where he attended Carr Hill high School.
He said: “I got chatting to my attackers outside the Mill nightclub on Aqueduct Street. Everyone was gathered around talking and we were getting on very well.
“Lakeland told me he was a soldier and seemed very pleasant. I actually thanked him for serving our country because I admire people who serve in the forces. We were chatting for around 30 minutes and we decided to go on to a club in town.
“I pulled out my phone to check if any friends were having any parties we could go to said they were going to the Loft nightclub for last orders.
“We started walking along Fylde Road when the soldier’s friend started swinging for me. I tried to bat him off and shouted, ‘What’s going on?’
“Suddenly I felt an impact from the other side. I turned around and then I got knocked out.”
When he came to he was lying alone on the ground with sever swelling to his face. His phone and designer jacket – which he says is his ‘signature’ jacket – were missing, though the defendants were not convicted of theft.
He said: “I could feel my face was all mushed up and was in shock. I felt I needed a cigarette and numbly started heading for the shops. Luckily I bumped into a police officer.”
He added: “I was determined they shouldn’t get away with it or be able to do it to anyone else. I have a strong friend network in Preston and with their help I started to do some research on Facebook.
“I knew it was a long shot but if I could get some sort of information that’s what the police needed. I looked at friends of friends on Facebook to see if I could cross reference them or their pictures. I had a breakthrough when some friend who knew the pair had had texts off them apparently bragging about the attack.
“My friends were outraged. I didn’t let my ordeal put me off living in Preston and I still go out with my friends.”
DC Ian Best of Preston CID, who dealt with the case, said: “He knew people who knew them so that was the big advantage for him. He did an excellent job and as a result it has helped us catch the offenders.”
Mr Rawstrone studied Pure Maths at Bangor University, but is now pursuing a career in producing feature films.
He is currently working with Preston-based Mycho Pictures in the production of two feature films called Creepsville and Slasher House. Both are in the latter stages of production.