A GANG of up to 30 youths viciously assaulted a Birkenhead dad as he tried to stop them vandalising cars.

Barry Walsh was returning from visiting friends when he was set upon by a gang of around 30 youths as he walked through Mersey Park.

The 41-year-old from Rock Ferry, who uses the park regularly, was walking along Seymour Street, towards Agnes Road at around 8pm on Friday when he saw the gang, armed heavily with metal bars, sticks and a cosh.

After seeing one of them smashing a nearby parked car, Barry told them to stop before continuing into the park.

Then the group approached him and began hitting hitting him with the sticks and metal bars.

They eventually ran off and were last seen turning up Hampden Road, towards Church Road.

Merseyside Police have launched an investigation into the assault, which left Barry with severe bruising.

Wife Louise spoke of the panic and fear after hearing about her husband’s attack, initially fearing the worst.

She told the Globe: “I was panicking like mad, I didn’t know what I was going to find – it was one of the worst nights of our lives.”

Forty-three-year-old Louise said Barry had tried to get help from a house in the park but after finding no-one was home, was forced to defend himself from the gang.

“He managed to get himself into a corner and actually put his hands up to protect his head and his arms took the brunt of it as they hit him repeatedly with this police-style cosh,” said Louise.

“Fortunately he made it to a friend’s house and from there the police and ambulance were called.”

Barry, who is Louise’s full-time carer, was taken to Arrowe Park Hospital.

Louise added: “We were lucky really.

“If he hadn’t had the mind to get his arms up to protect his head I could be a widow now – we’ve only been married nine months and I could have been burying my husband before our first anniversary.”

Barry is now said to be terrified of going out and is suffering with nightmares.

“He said he’ll never go to the parks again,” said Louise.

“We have a nine-year-old little girl, how can we tell her we can’t go to the park?”

Louise added: “We want to make sure people are aware that there is a gang going around that won’t think twice about hurting people.”

Police have described the youth believed to be carrying the metal bar as being aged between 14 and 17 and around 5ft 6in tall.

He is said to have been wearing dark tracksuit bottoms and a camouflage style jacket.

Detective Inspector Mark Tivendale, of Wirral CID, said: “This appears to have been a vicious and unprovoked attack on a man who was walking home minding his own business.

“It must have been frightening for the victim to be confronted by a large group and I’d like to take this opportunity to reassure people in Birkenhead that we are doing everything we can to trace and arrest the people responsible."

Anyone with information should call Wirral CID on 0151 777 2265 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.