Shire shocked by vicious assault at Turtons Creek
THERE probably isn’t a more remote, secluded spot in the South Gippsland Shire than McCartins Road, Turtons Creek.
Situated 10km north east of the South Gippsland Highway, from the turn-off at Foster North, you take hairpin bend after hairpin bend, on a dirt road beyond Camp Rumbug, just to get there.
Once you’ve arrived though, it’s easy to imagine why those who enjoy living close to nature would want a foothold here.
With its majestic eucalyptus trees and glorious fern gullies, there’s only the sound of bellbirds and maybe the occasional lyrebird to break the silence.
But, last Monday, May 25, the area’s blissful seclusion suddenly became frightening isolation for two South Gippsland Shire Council (SGSC) officers.
At around 10am building inspectors Justin Eades, 32, and Matthew Patterson, 39, attended the Turtons Creek property for an arranged meeting with the 45 year-old male owner.
It is here, that police will allege the man ambushed both council staff members in a shed, leaving both men with head injuries. Eades’ injuries are serious. Bass Coast Criminal Investigation Unit’s Leading Senior Constable Peter Johnston said the horrific assault occurred during an altercation at the property.
“The property owner had a couple of blokes from SGSC come out to an arranged meeting,” Ld Snr Const Johnston said.
“They have gone out there to inspect a building on the property and an altercation has occurred.
“It is alleged the property owner has struck the two men to the head with a metal pole, causing head injuries to both.”
With no mobile phone reception, the two injured men managed to escape the property and find help.
“Police have ended up being called and ambulances were also called once the officers saw the extent of the injuries,” Ls Const Johnston said.
The injuries to Eades were so horrific, he was later airlifted from the Foster Hospital to the Alfred Hospital with several skull fractures. Patterson also suffered head injuries during the attack.
“Both men were taken by ambulance to the Foster Hospital, but one of the men’s condition began to deteriorate so he was flown to the Alfred,” Ls Const Johnston said.
At the same time, police members descended on the scene, where they located the 45 year-old man and placed him under arrest.
“He was taken to the Wonthaggi Police Station and was remanded in custody that night,” Ld Snr Const Johnston said.
“He then appeared before the Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court the following day (Tuesday) and made no application for bail.”
The alleged offender was remanded in custody and is due to reappear at the Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court for a committal mention on August 20.
Despite reports that police had upgraded the charges to attempted murder, Ld Snr Const Johnston said that is not the case.
“The charges may change in the future, however at the moment he is charged with two counts of intentionally causing serious injury, false imprisonment and a number of other charges relating to the assaults,” he said.
The defendant was listed to face an action in relation to separate matters brought about by the council at the Wonthaggi Magistrates’ Court next week.
However, while police say they believe they have a motive for the vicious attack, they are unwilling to disclose any information about it at this stage.
“We still have a fair bit that we need to investigate and get through,” Ld Snr Const Johnston said.
Both men are continuing to recover from the incident.
Mr Patterson was released from hospital last week, while Ld Snr Const Johnston said Mr Eades remained in a serious but stable condition.
Fellow council staff members are believed to have been briefed about the incident last week, with many left shocked on hearing the details of what occurred.
No comment was available from the council about the attack due to the police investigation.
“This is a police matter,” communications officer Jeannie Hicks said.
“Our main concern is making sure that the staff members and their families are taken care of.”