A FAMILY were left reeling after their brain-damaged son was mugged at knifepoint in broad daylight.
Karl Swain was walking home from a friend's house when he had a knife pressed against his throat by an attacker, surrounded by three accomplices.
The knifeman demanded Karl's laptop and screamed a volley of foul language in his face.
The incident raises fears about escalating street violence. It comes just a fortnight after a cruel attack on blind Barry Dickinson, 43. Thugs threatened to slit his throat if he did not hand over his wallet.
Karl, 24, who suffers from memory loss, has suffered sleepless nights since the mugging and is enduring flashbacks and nightmares.
Dad Leslie, who cares full-time for Karl and his disabled mum Rita at their home in Kipling Place, Great Harwood, said: "He told me he dreams of himself lying on the floor after the attack."
"I have always told Karl to call me for a lift when he's coming home but because of his memory problems he decided to walk instead."
Karl returned home for good in January after 15 years' gruelling treatment, needed after he fell through a disused factory roof when he was nine.
After more than a decade struggling to regain his health and happiness, his family feel he is facing his biggest setback yet.
"We had concerns something like this would happen and Karl would have to learn about the horrible realities of life," said Mr Swain. "Karl is very withdrawn at the moment, and just when you think lightning can't strike twice my lad is challenged with something like this."
"But he is a fighter and will get over it because he has fought through so many difficult things in his life."
Karl was robbed at 6.15pm last Friday by four youths on Park Road, Great Harwood.
Sergeant Dave Reddin, of Great Harwood CID, said: "It was a very cowardly, nasty attack on a lone man who was obviously terrified and concerned for his safety."
After the attack Karl, who is taking a Blackburn College computer course, described himself as "troubled" and said he hoped the memory of the robbery would fade.
The attackers were described as Asian and in their late teens. One had a full beard and wore a white buttoned shirt, blue jeans and dark trainers. The second mugger was about 5ft 8ins tall and wore cream jeans and a dark bomber jacket.
The third was of similar height and build, wore a red fleece top and light blue jeans and had short, dark scruffy hair. The final attacker wore a denim shirt and similar coloured jeans, as well as a gold neck chain.
Sergeant Reddin added: "There was some sort of travelling show on near Wood Street and hopefully someone will have seen something."
"If they did they should call Great Harwood CID on 353342."