Assault victim fighting for life

A YAMBA man is in a Queensland hospital with life threatening injuries after a fight in Yamba in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The man, in his early 20s, cannot be identified.

Details of what happened are unclear, but a friend told the Examiner he was attacked shortly after he left the Pacific Hotel in Yamba after closing time with a group of friends.

Last night, however, police said his injuries appeared to have been the result of a fight between two people.

The injured man’s friend said the group had been walking home when he left the group to go to his home.

Surf life saving champion Alyce Bennett, who was in the group, said she did not see what had happened, despite it occurring less than 100 metres from them.

She said that after the incident, the man got up and ran to his home. Ms Bennett said the first she knew of the incident was a phone call from her friend’s sister who warned the group that they should not go home alone because there were men in the area.

As she was talking on the phone a police vehicle approached and Ms Bennett told the two police that there had been an assault.

The group went to their friend’s house, where they saw the extent of his injuries.

“We went to check how he was,” Ms Bennett said. “The bathroom looked like the scene of a bloody massacre.

“He was losing a lot of blood, but his face seemed all right. There was a bit of swelling on the right cheek, but he was coherent and talking.

“Then he started vomiting up a lot of blood and we took him to Maclean Hospital.”

Hospital staff kept the young man in hospital until the morning, when he was taken to Lismore Base Hospital.

From there he was taken by helicopter to the Gold Coast Hospital where surgeons operated on him yesterday.

The victim’s sister said doctors described his injuries as life threatening.

“His cheekbone was broken, his nose was smashed and the artery between his eye socket and cheek was torn,” she said.

“They (the blood vessels) were destroyed and the surgeon had to clamp them to stop the bleeding.

“The surgeon told us that this was not assault, it was grievous bodily harm. He had never seen anyone lose so much blood.

“They said the next 24 hours is going to be critical. He has to be kept still and in the dark until 3pm tomorrow.”

Police said yesterday they were only just beginning to investigate the attack.

“Police received a call from the victim’s mother at 1.40am on Sunday, but at that stage they said the young man did not want to talk to police,” said chief inspector Darren Spooner.

He said last night police had spoken to some witnesses who claimed the man’s injuries were the result of a one on one fight.

Chief inspector Spooner said detectives had begun interviewing witnesses and would also look at closed circuit television footage from the hotel.

Queensland police will also interview the victim once he has recovered sufficiently from his injuries.

“We also want to hear from anyone in the public who has information about the incident. They should contact police or Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000,” he said.

“It was a cowardly and craven attack with three men attacking another man.”

Chief inspector Spooner said the victim had not been robbed.

The injured man’s sister said yesterday that she was sure her brother would help police.

“After the attack he was so frightened of what might happen to him, his friends and our family,” she said.

“He thought they were still outside the house. He didn’t even want us to turn on the lights to check out his injuries because they might still be out there. I’m sure once he’s recovered he will want to help the police.

“At the moment all our thoughts are to make sure he’s all right.”

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