Chloe Layley, 22, from Chelmsford, Essex, tells her story...
Music and giggles filled the kitchen as my friend Kristina and I tucked into pizza and sipped our vodka.
It was Friday 11 December 2015 and I’d recently got a job as an operations assistant for a big firm in London.
But now it was the end of the week.
Young, free and single, I couldn’t wait to let my hair down.
By about 10.30pm, we left Kristina’s house and headed to a bar in Chelmsford.
Dressed in my white blouse and leather skirt, we danced, chatted and drank.
By 3.45am, the lights came on as I was chatting to an ex-boyfriend I’d bumped into.
We went outside with Kristina and her friend.
‘We’re heading to McDonald’s,’ she said.
‘Meet you there,’ I replied, mid-conversation.
Me and my ex were still chatting away as we walked up the high street.
We hadn’t quite got to McDonald’s when I saw four big blokes walking in the opposite direction.
They said something to my ex. I didn’t catch what.
But, suddenly, they were pushing and shoving him.
‘Calm down,’ I screamed, terrified.
I’d never been in a fight before and was really scared.
‘Let’s go,’ I was saying to my ex, desperately trying to get away.
I saw a girl who’d been in the club with the blokes – and, next thing I knew, something hit me on the back of my head.
Then everything went dark.
When I opened my eyes again, I was laying on the ground with a crowd of people staring down at me.
And there was a police officer next to me.
‘It’s OK,’ he reassured me.
My head was pounding and I was covered in blood. My legs were sticky, my white blouse was soaked red, and I could feel it dripping down my face.
I burst into uncontrollable sobs, distraught.
‘Where am I?’ I cried, unable to remember.
‘You’re on Chelmsford High Street,’ one of the officers said. ‘I saw a girl hit you on the back of the head and then, when you fell, she stamped on your head with her stilettos on.’
It was then I saw the girl that I’d seen in the club, and with the group of men. She was being held against a wall by officers.
But why had she attacked me?
I was drifting in and out of consciousness as two police officers carried me into an ambulance.
I vaguely remember calling Mum and Dad to tell them.
When I arrived at Broomfield Hospital, my mum Nikki, and dad Chris were there waiting.
Mum couldn’t hide her panic when she saw me, but still it didn’t seem real as nurses took me into a room to clean me up.
It was only when all the blood was mopped up that you could see the extent of my injuries.
I had a hole in my forehead from the stiletto, and bruising all over my face.
I was rushed for CT scans and my heart was checked.
Finally, I was sent home, patched up, with painkillers.
A couple of hours later a police officer came to take a statement. The officer told me that my attacker, Jusara Tavares-Fernando, had been taken into custody.
‘Why did she do it?’ I asked, confused about the whole thing. ‘I’ve never seen her before in my life until last night.’
It didn’t make sense.
My head was pounding and I couldn’t stop being sick, so next day I went back to the hospital and had another CT scan and tests.
‘You’ve got severe concussion and swelling on the right-hand side of your brain,’ the doctor told me afterwards. ‘You’re lucky to have survived without more serious injuries. It could have killed you.’
It didn’t bear thinking about.
Back at home, the painkillers helped, but the psychological damage didn’t go anywhere.
Traumatised, I was scared to leave the house on my own.
Dad had to walk me to the station so I could go to work, then pick me up again in the evening.
I suffered from nightmares and flashbacks.
Eventually, I did have to go into Chelmsford again, and as I walked past where the attack had happened, I had a horrible flashback.
I could hear the ambulance siren blaring loudly…feel the throbbing pain in my head.
I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and panic attacks and prescribed antidepressants.
With my attacker on bail, I was scared.
What if I bumped into her?
I was having regular counselling by the time the trial came around in April this year.
At Chelmsford Crown Court, Jusara Tavares-Fernando, 21, pleaded not guilty to ABH.
I desperately tried to fight back the nerves as I stood up to give evidence. I’d been waiting for this moment for so long – to be able to look her in the face.
I wanted answers. I wanted an apology. I wanted justice.
Instead, Tavares-Fernando denied attacking me, insisting she’d actually hit someone else.
It was nonsense.
After three days, the jury returned a verdict.
Jusara Tavares-Fernando was found guilty of ABH and later sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years.
‘She should be locked up!’ I cried, devastated.
It’s so unfair.
While Tavares-Fernando is free to get on with her life, mine is still haunted by her attack.
The scar on my head is fading, but the scars inside aren’t.
But I don’t pity myself. It’s that thug’s next victim I feel sorry for.