A DREAM holiday turned into a nightmare for a husband and wife when he was robbed at gunpoint and left so badly hurt he needed emergency surgery.

Mik Laverty was mugged during he and wife Denise’s first full day in Thailand and now the couple’s friends are raising money towards his treatment and to help get them home.

The couple, from Newton Aycliffe, travelled to the Phuket region on Thursday to celebrate Army veteran Mr Laverty’s 50th birthday.

After the perfect start to their break, the holiday took a dramatic turn for the worse when Mr Laverty was attacked by two young men who put a gun in his face and demanded money.

Mrs Laverty said she had gone into a bar to use the toilet while her husband waited outside.

When she got back she could not see her husband among crowds of people in the street so she frantically searched the resort before returning to their hotel.

Staff checked CCTV footage but there was still no sign of Mr Laverty until the hotel was contacted by a nearby hospital to say one of their guests had been admitted.

Mrs Laverty rushed to his bedside and was shocked to learn what had happened.

Mr Laverty had been left so badly hurt that his recollection of the mugging is patchy but he remembered seeing a black 4x4 vehicle around the time he was grabbed.

When he told the attackers had no cash they took his watch and keys and made off, leaving him in a side street with multiple leg fractures which have since been operated on.

Mrs Laverty was initially too scared to return to the hotel fearful the robbers had the room key.

She has since reported the crime to police and an officer and hotel security staff have helped. The couple expect to speak to the British Embassy today.

Mr and Mrs Laverty, who have two sons, have already had to pay about £3,000 for hospital treatment but are concerned about spiralling costs while their insurers investigate.

An online fundraising campaign called ‘Get Mik and Denise Home’ was set up by an old school friend of Mrs Laverty’s and raised almost £1,000 in the first 24 hours.

Mrs Laverty said support from home is helping them get through the ordeal.

Writing on Facebook, she said: “This has been the worst experience in my life ever I am truly gutted and devastated as to what has happened and appreciate what everybody has done for me and Mik.

“I just so can't wait to be back in the UK and get this horrific ordeal put behind us.”