'I thought I was going to die' - Wicklow man attacked in Australia after 'Good Samaritan' learned he was gay
Published 24/02/2016 | 08:13
AN Irishman was brutally attacked and hospitalised after enduring a savage 'homophobic' attack in Australia, firstly by a gang of seven and then by a man who initially appeared to be trying to assist him.
Dylan Souster (22), from Laragh, Co Wicklow, sustained multiple facial fractures, tooth dislodgement, palate damage and bleeding in the ears. Severe swelling of the jaw means he can't yet speak properly, while one eye remains swollen and he has a split lip.
His ordeal began in the early hours of Sunday morning, at about 1 a.m., when he went out to the front of his Waterloo apartment in inner-south Sydney to wave off some friends who were getting a taxi home.
As he turned to go back into his apartment he was suddenly struck by an unknown assailant. The victim woke up at Waterloo Oval, some five minutes away from his apartment, to find a group of seven people kicking him in the head and all over his body. He has no recollection of how he got there.
They only stopped the prolonged assault after a woman in the group started yelling at the six men to stop.
A bloodied Mr Souster staggered back home and asked a man along the way for his assistance.
The stranger asked 'are you Okay? What happened?'
He walked Mr Souster back to his apartment and asked if he wanted to contact his girlfriend to help him get upstairs.
When Mr Souster replied that he had a boyfriend, the man suddenly roared 'oh, you have a boyfriend. You're a queer, you're a faggot.'
He then proceeded to punch the Irish man in the face on numerous occasions.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph in Australia, Souster said: “I’ve experienced verbal homophobic abuse in Sydney while alone and with my partner but never anything physical. I’m terrified to leave my apartment now.
“The first attack was a complete blur. I was literally across the road from my apartment when I went to turn around and walk home, after realising that my friends had left and got into a taxi or walked, I just remember being hit in the face by a male.
“After this I don’t know if I ran towards the oval in shock to get away or whether he forced me there but I remember waking up in the oval being kicked and punched all over my body by a group of males.
“The guy that tried to help me seemed genuine as he walked me within 50m of my apartment. It was only when he asked what had happened and I mentioned my boyfriend that he freaked out and said ‘you’re one of those fags ya f**king queer c**t’ then he turned on me and hit me into the face full force.
“I then ran home thinking he was following but he had turned away and ran. I’ve been having nightmares of feet coming towards my face and waking me up. My injuries include: Two burst lips, an overly swollen jaw, two black eyes, cuts to my forehead, cheeks and massive bruising on my head. I honestly thought I was going to die in that oval.
“I’ve never been so scared in my life. Hopefully the people that done this will be caught so that it can’t happen to anyone else.”
Speaking to the Syndey Morning Herald, Mr Souster's boyfriend, Darren Hedderman, described the man as a 'Good Samaritan-turned-bad.'
He added, 'It's such a cowardly thing to do, such scum, I wish it had been me instead.'
The couple have lived in Sydney for over three years and while they have suffered some homophobic verbal abuse, this was the first time they ever experienced any violence.
'We've had a few people shouting stuff from cars. But it's never gotten physical.'
The couple ended up spending over twelve hours at St Vincent's Hospital in Darlinghurst, where Mr Souster underwent two CT scans.
New South Wales Police have confirmed that they are investigating the assault.
According to a statement, 'Detectives from Redfern Local Area Command are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incidents, including bias towards the man based on his sexual orientation.'
They are also examining CCTV footage.