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Court decision a joke: victim

Friday, 21st March, 2014

By Erica Visser

The 60-year-old victim of an unprovoked bashing says he felt “absolutely gutted” when his assailant walked free after a ruling in the District Court this week.

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, was walking down Oxide Street on the night of October 11 last year when a stranger, David Matthew Pope (37), came up behind him, knocked him to the ground and started kicking him.

Pope pleaded guilty to assault in January, with his lawyer saying he was having a “psychotic episode” at the time.

He was sentenced to eight months’ jail but lodged an appeal which was upheld in the District Court on Wednesday.

The victim yesterday told the BDT that it was an “absolute joke” that his attacker had escaped jail time.

“I’m absolutely gutted. The justice system is in disarray,” he said.

“For a person to do something like that and get off scot-free, I feel a bit let down.”

The man said that he had health problems as a result of the attack, including knee and shoulder problems and frequent headaches. His teeth were also broken in the assault.

He said it had also left him feeling shaken and he was now scared to walk alone in the city he moved to from Adelaide just over a year ago.

“I thought this was a great town. Everyone’s very friendly ... but this has definitely soured my time here.”

He required counselling after the attack during which Pope was allegedly screaming abuse and spitting on him.

“He broke my teeth and he kept yelling, ‘I hate all you old c***s, you should all be dead’.

“It is troubling to know that this person could assault someone nearly twice his age with no motive at all.

“Our community should have the right to walk the streets and Pope should be locked up.”

The victim was less than two blocks from his Lane Street home when the attack occurred.

The court heard on Wednesday that Pope had not drunk alcohol since the incident and had cut back his use of cannabis. He was also willing to join a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, his lawyer said.

But the victim said that it wasn’t good enough.

“What I cannot cope with is the mindset of a person like this who can do this to someone without any provocation and then think he can turn his life around with a 12-week live-in rehabilitation course,” he said.

“A the age of 37 he should have sought or been given help many years ago, before he came to a point of unleashing his drug-induced anger on a totally innocent victim.

“I will suffer from this attack mentally and physically for the rest of my life. I know it won’t be me who will be getting any leniency.”

He has since written to Premier Barry O’Farrell on the matter of tougher assault laws.

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