The Korumburra Magistrates’ Court last week heard a chilling account of the sustained attack on three South Gippsland Tourist Rail volunteers earlier this year in which two youths allegedly inflicted life-threatening injuries to one of their victims.
During evidence provided at a bail hearing last Thursday, police said that one of the volunteers, Richard Davies, was struck about the legs and head by two weapon-wielding attackers, however amid cries for mercy, the assault continued.
According to police, Davies had been beaten to the ground by repeated blows in the converted residential section of the Korumburra Railway Station last February.
But when he raised his arm to ward off the attack, he had the radius and ulna bones in his forearm broken by one of the youths with an aluminium baseball bat.
A further blow to the head rendered him unconscious.
Davies sustained skull fractures to the front and back of his head, is being assessed for an acquired brain injury, lost partial vision in his left eye, received stitches to his ear and had a metal rod inserted into his left forearm while spending 17 days in hospital.
Details of the attacks on the three tourist rail volunteers, and the injuries sustained, were provided to the court by police last week as they opposed the bail application by one of the young men allegedly involved in what Magistrate Fiona Hayes later described as “a callous assault in the presence of witnesses”.
The incidents occurred at the Korumburra Railway Station on Saturday, February 28, initially at 9.20pm, when three volunteers aged 58, 34 and 49 were assaulted but continued two hours later when the youths returned with weapons.
Third person involved
It was also revealed in court last week that police believe the two youths involved in the attack may have been driven back to the station by a third person, following the earlier assault, after arming themselves with the bat and a metal vacuum cleaner pipe at the home of one of the alleged offenders.
The court heard that the youths, who had themselves sustained cuts and abrasions in the first attack, made up a story about being stabbed by one of the volunteers, and were allegedly driven back to the railway station by a third person who it is claimed wanted to find out what happened.
Instead, the incident escalated to a fearful extent.
Police investigations are continuing into the claims.
The bail application was subsequently denied by Magistrate Hayes.
The 19 year old man making the application, who has already spent 54 days in custody, is likely to remain at the Melbourne Remand Centre, in the general prison population, at least until a committal hearing is held at the Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, May 28.
The court was told his incarceration could extend for months beyond that, unless a further bail application is made, while technicians try to recover evidence from a fire damaged CCTV system. But the magistrate ruled it would not amount to an undue delay.
The youths allegedly threw the CCTV recorder at the railway station into the fire in an effort to destroy the evidence. The bat and pipe were also discarded at the scene, with police allegedly recovering the fingerprint of one of the youths from the metal pipe.
The bail applicant’s alleged co-offender, a 16 year old youth, is also still in custody.
In refusing bail, Ms Hayes said that while she didn’t consider the accused man a flight risk, there was an unacceptable risk to the community of his reoffending due to the fact that the more serious of the assaults had taken place while the man was on bail, under condition that he not go to the railway station, following a violent incident there, four days earlier, on February 24.
Legal counsel for the accused man, Ms Novak, tried a number of strategies to support the bail application claiming Mr Davies had been drinking at a local hotel on the night, that the two other rail volunteers had also consumed alcohol and that they were socialising rather than working at the railway station.
She said there was no CCTV footage of the primary assault involving Davies and no evidence that he’d suffered an acquired brain injury.
She said her client had said in his police interview that he had withdrawn from the attack on Mr Davies and had in fact asked his co-accused to stop.
Ms Novak called witnesses to support her submission that her client had a job waiting for him, that he had a stable home life, that he was a suitable candidate for supervised bail and that the 14-16 months it might take for the matter to come to trial was too long for a young, first offender to be incarcerated.
The magistrate gave a point by point assessment of the submission but in the end said the applicant had already demonstrated he was not prepared to abide by the conditions of his bail.
The court also heard details of the incident on February 24 in which the 19 year old is alleged to have slung another railway volunteer to the ground and punched him in the head.
He was interviewed and charged by police on February 25, and placed on bail under condition that he not go to the railway station.
Details of another unrelated assault, also allegedly involving the bail applicant, at a residential property in Korumburra on February 4, were also provided to the court.
The 19 year old sat passively in the dock during the court proceedings and did not react when the decision to refuse bail was handed down.
His father was heard to say “take care” as the youth was led past him back to the police cells after the hearing.