Leeds councillor attacked during run by the canal

Coun Stuart McKenna with a bruised eye after the attack
Coun Stuart McKenna with a bruised eye after the attack
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Warnings have been issued to joggers after a councillor was violently attacked while out running along the canal in Leeds.

Stuart McKenna, who represents Garforth and Swillington on Leeds City Council, was on the canal towpath near Kirkstall when a masked man came out of the darkness and punched him in the head.

The pair tussled on the ground as the attacker tried to steal his phone but Mr McKenna managed to fight him off and the assailant fled.

But the 29-year-old said others should be on their guard.

“In a way I’m glad it was me and not some innocent woman or someone walking their dog,” he said.

“Luckily I’m quite a big bloke and able to defend myself, but someone else might not be so fortunate.

“If he’s capable of doing it to me, he’s capable of doing it to most other people.

“It’s a popular spot with students and people out running. People just need to be careful.”

Mr McKenna had set off from Armley and was running towards Leeds city centre when he was jumped near Wyther Lane in Kirkstall shortly after 7pm last Monday.

He said: “It was really dark and I had my headphones in.

“Out of nowhere I felt this whack to the side of my head. I think 99 per cent of people would have gone down after being hit like that. We had a scrap and when we were on the floor he was saying, ‘I’m going to kill you’.

“We would have been struggling for 10 to 15 seconds then he ran off.

“i’ve been jogging down there for eight or nine years and nothing like this has ever happened before.

“It has knocked me back a bit. I won’t ever go jogging down there again.”

Police have been examining CCTV to try to identify the attacker, who was wearing a Berghaus-style hooded jacket pulled over his face.

Det Insp Peter Corley, of Leeds neighbourhood investigations, said: “This was clearly a distressing incident for the victim to be attacked like this while out for a run. We would like to hear from anyone who witnessed the incident or has any information that could assist the investigation.

“We generally advise people to keep to well-lit areas while out and about in the hours of darkness and to avoid listening to music on headphones while out running as this can distract them from their surroundings.”

Anyone with information should call PC Deborah Box at Elland Road via 101 .