THE families of two young local men involved in a fight at the McDonalds Restaurant in Leongatha, in the early hours of last Sunday morning, are distraught at what has transpired.
One of their boys, an 18 year old from Inverloch, was airlifted to the Royal Melbourne Hospital in a “critical condition”, according to an Ambulance Victoria spokesman, with facial injuries in the aftermath of the altercation.
The other youth, a 19 year old from Outtrim, is facing the repercussions of his actions, allegedly in response to an earlier incident, including responsibility for the man’s grievous injuries and the possibility that police will lay serious assault charges against him.
The parents of the two boys are well known to each other and have since been in contact following the harrowing incident.
The two young men were previously friends, having spent time at each other’s homes.
The fight had been initially characterised by police, and the city media, as a suspected assault by one man on another and also that “a friend of the Inverloch man found him unconscious in the bathroom of the South Gippsland Highway McDonalds”, indicating abandonment.
But, the Sentinel-Times understands, this is not what happened.
It has been reported that the man accused of assaulting the other man, had himself been assaulted earlier and that he remained at the restaurant for up to an hour following the more serious incident, concerned about the other man’s welfare.
The altercation happened at 2.10am. Police did not arrive until 4am.
Having remained in the town at a friend’s place, he then surrendered himself to police at 11am that morning.
Police have since moved to clarify the situation, at a media briefing on Monday afternoon, and the city media have moved on.
According to Acting Senior Sergeant Jason Hullick of the Wonthaggi Police, the incident took place at the McDonalds Restaurant at about 2.10am on Sunday morning, following the closure of a licensed venue in Leongatha, when several groups of people moved on to the popular late-night eatery.
“All of the people involved have walked down from McCartin’s to Maccas,” he said.
“There was a minor altercation at the same venue earlier,” he said, alleging that it might only have been verbal.
“And they have subsequently met together in the toilets where the incident has occurred.
“Several punches were thrown and the young man has sustained facial injuries that were not as serious as first thought,” he said.
Act Sen Sgt Hullick acknowledged that the incident was fuelled by alcohol but rejected any idea that it was premeditated.
He said one man had been interviewed by police over the incident and a second person, also possibly involved in the assault, would be interviewed this week. A third man, initially thought as being involved, may actually have been trying to intervene, according to Act Sen Sgt Hullick.
He said the man was very remorseful for his actions.
“People have come forward and are co-operating with police. They’re all known to each other. They’re all giving their versions of what has occurred.”
He said CCTV footage was not available of the incident which occurred in the toilets but video surveillance had been obtained, indicating what had happened in the lead up and also which individuals had been seen entering the toilets.
It has since been reported to the Sentinel-Times that there had been a verbal and violent exchange between the two young men in the body of the restaurant prior to the incident in the toilet, in which the subsequent offender received a bloodied nose.
Sometime later, the pair have met in the toilets where it is alleged, there was a follow up incident.
The injured man has allegedly fallen on to the tiles in the toilets, after being struck, and hit his head.
Some of these claims are included in the information already gathered by police, who are continuing with their investigations.
Asked if there was any private security provided at the McDonalds Restaurant or if police were concerned about reports such late-night venues attracted trouble, Act Sen Sgt Hullick said no.
He said he wasn’t aware that there was any security at McDonalds at the time or that the after-hours food venue attracted trouble makers.
“Late-night venues will attract trouble from time to time but I’m not aware of any particular issues here,” he said.
“Do you know of any other incidents?”
He said that resorting to violence was never a good way to sort out differences.
“It’s totally unacceptable. Violence is unacceptable. There are much better ways for adults to sort out their differences,” he said.
The injured man is in a stable condition in hospital awaiting treatment.
‘Friends’ fight almost tragic