West Yorkshire woman’s campaign on drunken violence

Lisa Snowden.
Lisa Snowden.
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Newlyweds Lisa and Phillip Snowden were looking forward to a happy married life.

But then 6ft 11in ‘gentle giant’ Phillip was brutally and senselessly attacked on a night out – and the young couple’s world came crashing down.

Phillip, 34, above, was set on by vicious Adam Smith in an unprovoked attack at a nightclub.

He had been picked on randomly for his sheer size. His skull was smashed, and he was left fighting for his life. Smith has since been jailed for nine years.

Today, a year later, Phillip is in 24-hour care at a nursing home. He cannot talk or walk, communicates by blinking and is fed via a pipe in his stomach.

And Lisa, 33, right, is getting ready to launch a new campaign called Justice for Big Phil.

She and Phillip’s family will spend much of 2012 campaigning for ‘zero tolerance’ on drunken violence – and stricter police powers which would allow officers to close West Yorkshire nightspots on the spot when trouble breaks out.

Lisa recently accompanied police officers on a weekend shift in Wakefield city centre to see the toll of booze-fuelled violence for herself.

The toll of booze-fuelled violence for herself.

“We have to make a positive out of a negative,” Lisa told the YEP.

“Seeing Phillip the way he is now, it cannot be a waste of a life. We have to move forward.

“If we can make it stop even one person getting hurt, then it’s worth it.”

Phillip, a welder and handyman, had gone out with two friends on October 17, 2010 when he was attacked.

The couple had just passed the initial stages of the adoption process, and were planning a move to Canada.

“He was just having a dance and a drink,” Lisa said.

“Phil held his hand up [to stop Smith] but he was hit eight times and kicked.

“People would always come up to him and say ‘let’s have a fight’, because he was so big. But he was the softest brush in the pack. He was known as the BFG – the big friendly giant.”

Despite her outward bravery, Lisa is still struggling to deal with the aftermath of the life-changing events of last year.

She has now given up her job as an area manager for a cosmetics firm and, after spending 14 months helping care for her husband, is retraining as a physiotherapist at Leeds General Infirmary.

“It has got a bit overwhelming,” she admits.

“The adoption won’t happen now because he is severely brain damaged.

“He will never be the same person again, ever. We just don’t know what level [of recovery] he can get to now.

“It could take years and years.

“He has had 17 chest infections in 14 months, that alone could kill him. He only breathes to 30 per cent of his capacity and he has had three bouts of pneumonia.

“Sometimes he has a flicker of a smile but it doesn’t happen often.

“All the way through this, the doctors have said it’s a miracle he has survived this long.

“We are just living day to day. It’s a way of life now. There’s no closure.”

Speaking of spending the festive season alone, Lisa adds: “It’s hard, because Christmas is Phillip’s favourite time of the year. I had to write all the Christmas cards and wrap all the presents myself.

“We did Christmas at his care home. He had a little Christmas tree and his room was decorated. I took some pine needles from our tree at home so he could have the smell. He does seem to respond to that.”

* Follow Lisa’s campaign on Facebook by typing ‘Justice 4 Big Phil’ into the search box.