A NINE-year-old was left with a black eye after she was smashed in the face by a thug while cycling home from school.
Tia Gash was left bawling her eyes out after random stranger struck her in the face, knocking her earrings out in the process.
Tia Gash was hit so hard her earrings fell out and she was left in tears[/caption]
The youngster stopped on the path when a man approached her from behind and hit her across the face before walking away.
The Fernhurst Junior School pupil, from Portsmouth, Hants, then rushed home to tell her mother, Helen, what happened.
Ms Gash, 41, said: “I’m fuming that someone could do that to a nine-year-old child in broad daylight in a built-up area.
“It must have been some slap to cause the bruise on her face and it makes me angry and upset when I see it because I know a grown adult has done that to my daughter.”
Recalling the moment she was hit, she said: “It really hurt.
“At the time I didn’t want to say anything because I was scared he would do something else.
“Until he did it I didn’t know he was there.”
As her face began to swell she was taken to hospital, where she was recommended paracetamol, before launching an appeal for witnesses on Facebook.
The message has been shared more than 3,000 times and Hampshire police confirmed they are investigating the incident.
Fernhurst Primary School headteacher, Roberta Kirby, has condemned the attack.
She said: “This is extremely worrying.
“Pupils should feel safe to walk to and from school unharmed and I urge anybody who knows anything, or sees anything, that threatens children to report it immediately to the police.”
Tia’s dad Matt, a Royal Navy veteran, now holds out hope the man who hurt his daughter could be hunted down by police.
The 43-year-old said: “I’m hoping the community can come together with Facebook and all other options to help find this person.
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“It’s not just down to the police force, it’s down to us as a community to share things like this and work together to make our town safe.”
Tia has described the attacker as 5 ft 6in tall, in his 30’s or 40’s and with a “Middle Eastern” complexion.
She said he was wearing a blue top with blue jeans and was accompanied by a woman, who was wearing a pink top. The woman allegedly apologised and hit the man after he struck Tia.
Tia was cycling home from school when the randomly attacked[/caption]
The nine-year-old, pictured with her sister Chelsea, 16, was taken to hospital[/caption]