Victim, 73: ‘We must take a stand’

03 Jul 2018 • The Australian, Australia (General News)
by Richard Ferguson


A 73-year-old Melbourne man allegedly bashed by partygoers outside his Hawthorn home has called for a tougher approach to gang-inspired violence, recounting how he woke up in the back of an ambulance after trying to intervene to stop an out-of-control party at the weekend.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he “had the shit kicked out of me” by young men and women of African appearance after he went outside his flat to investigate a scream.

No arrests have been made over the party in a property that had been rented via Airbnb, but police have identified people of interest and yesterday executed two search warrants on properties in Pakenham East, where items were seized.

Victoria Police has stood by its strategy in dealing with wild parties despite having taken several hours to gain access to the Hastings Road property, which was significantly damaged. Two people – the 73-year-old and a 16year-old girl – were injured.

“These blokes were tearing at the front fence of the flat,” the male victim said. “The woman in the front flat was taking them on and I went to help.

“I woke up on the other side on the road, having had the shit kicked out of me . the lass said later if I hadn’t intervened she would have been in trouble.”

The victim also had his wallet stolen. “I got up and chased them. I saw one man jump into a car, and then I was set upon again,” he said.

He said a group of six to 12 females of African appearance started punching and kicking him before police finally came to his aid. “All you could see were their bloody beads,” he said.

“Constables then came and sprayed the melee, including me. Next thing I know, I’m waking up in the back of an ambulance.”

The man said: “The public needs to take a stand on this sort of violence because the politicians and do-gooders aren’t. We can’t have rampages like this in 21stcentury Australia. It’s not acceptable, whether you’re caucasian, Asian or African.”

Police attended the property about 2am to 4am on Sunday after multiple complaints from neighbours and reports of fighting. However, they did not enter until a third visit about 6am, when the partygoers dispersed.

The police found tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage including holes in the walls, smashed windows, a damaged Mercedes-Benz in the garage and gang-style graffiti tags, including a reference to the Apex gang, throughout the house.

The four-bedroom modern home is owned by Chinese-born Huike Fang, who bought it for $3.55 million in 2015. Neighbours say the owner spends a lot of the time overseas and had only rented the house on Airbnb twice before.

In May, Victoria Police announced a change of strategy for dealing with out-of-control parties following similar disturbances in Footscray and North Melbourne.

A police spokeswoman said e they were still grappling with the d complexities of short-term rentals. “Police officers respond to – parties all the time, including r multiple call-outs. Dealing with – disruptive house parties is not a s new issue for Victoria Police,” the – spokeswoman said.

“However, the emergence of short-term rentals has added another dimension to our policing and is something we are still working through.”

A Victorian government spokeswoman said police did have the power to enter any property where they thought harm to people or property could occur.

“These are operational decisions that are made by police on the ground,” she said.

Hawthorn’s Liberal state MP John Pesutto said Victoria Police had to start making arrests. “We need to see actual arrests so the culprits can face justice,” Mr Pesutto said.

“My constituents are so angry . they are simply fed up with the culture of no consequences.”

An Airbnb spokesman said it would compensate the owner up to the value of $US1 million ($1.37m).

“We have zero tolerance for this kind of behaviour and have permanently banned this individual (who rented the house for the party) from our platform,” he said.


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