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Shot teen’s story to pack a punch

PUBLISHED: 16:23 18 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:28 23 August 2010

ORDEAL: John Smith has written about how he cheated death but was left paralysed while out lamping’.

ORDEAL: John Smith has written about how he cheated death but was left paralysed while out lamping’.

A TEENAGER left paralysed after he was shot is to write a book about the ordeal inspired by his new pal – boxing legend Frank Bruno. John Smith, 19, of Beechwood Gardens, Meopham, was blasted in the back three years ago, leaving him in a wheelchair. His

A TEENAGER left paralysed after he was shot is to write a book about the ordeal inspired by his new pal - boxing legend Frank Bruno.

John Smith, 19, of Beechwood Gardens, Meopham, was blasted in the back three years ago, leaving him in a wheelchair.

His attackers chased the youngster and four others in a Jeep and fired five shots through their Subaru, with one lodging in the youngster's spine, after catching them 'lamping' - a legal activity - on private land in Hadlow, near Tonbridge.

Former gamekeeper Johnathon Cannon, 56, was jailed for three years after pleading not guilty to grievous bodily harm last year. The gunman Paul Jeffrey, 38, received two years and eight months after admitting the charge.

After the shooting Mr Smith spent weeks on life support and several months in a rehabilitation centre.

He said: "The physical and emotional support from my family and friends has been overwhelming.

"Bizarrely, I have even had massive support from Frank Bruno who has helped me with my mental attitude and training. Not only did these people paralyse me but they destroyed my mind. I suffered post traumatic stress and my mind was in a terrible state.

"Frank has suffered similar problems and has been a great strength for me and inspiration. Whenever, I am down I know I can give him a call and he helps me through. We talk about training of the body and mind and how to cope."

He added: "I started writing about six months ago and just couldn't stop. I want people to read my story, see the pain behind the face because I did not deserve this. I was 16-years-old and I have been robbed of my life."

The youngster, whose book is titled Cheating Death, first met the boxing legend when his dad, Sam Smith, met him while working at a market near Hemel Hempstead.

After being told about John's ordeal the legend agreed to give him a call and they have been friends ever since, even meeting occasionally.

Mr Smith is in talks with AuthorHouse to publish his 200-page story about events leading up to the shooting, his treatment, the court case, his road to recovery and his dogged determination to find a cure for his condition.

Paralysed from the waist down, he takes part in a gruelling six hour regime to keep his upper body and legs as healthy as possible to make him a good candidate for trials involving stem cell research.

The family even paid to have the stem cells of his sister's new born baby frozen for 20 years. With an almost perfect match it is hoped these could be used to recreate the damaged nerves and allow him to walk again.

He added: "I've done my research, everyday I train. I need to keep my upper body strong and fit to help me with everyday life.

"But I also need to work on my legs, if I let the tendons weaken too much if one day stem cell research pays off I want to be a good candidate for this treatment. I keep up with the news. It's great that Barack Obama has put it back on the American agenda.

"My book is about inspiration. I have read books about the disabled, paralysed and they accept they will never walk again. I don't want to accept this and I will spend my life trying to walk again. If I turn 80 and die I will die trying because I don't want this to be my whole life."

michael.adkins@archant.co.uk

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