'WE COULD HAVE BEE KILLED'
By DARREN COYNE
A POTTSVILLE man yesterday blasted the lack of police numbers along the Tweed Coast after surviving a terrifying attack by a gang of youths.
Tony Phillips and his wife Mary Jo were returning home to Pottsville just after midnight yesterday when the window in their Tarago van was shattered after being hit with what Mr Phillips believes was a rock.
"We were going around the roundabout near the primary school and there were about 10 to 15 young people, aged between 12 and 18 years old, standing about," Mr Phillips said.
"As we got level with them one kid came racing across and threw something and then the side window of the van blew up.
"It could've killed us. It was a deadly thing to do."
In shock, Mrs Phillips drove the short distance home and Mr Phillips raced upstairs and rang 000.
"A bloke came on after a minute or so and I told him I needed the police. He put me on hold and came back a few times and finally said he'd transfer me to the Tweed station.
"It took about 20 minutes to report what happened, but in the end no-one turned up anyway, so this morning I rang Kingscliff and there was no-one there. I was diverted to Tweed Heads and gave them the report number and the copper said, 'We didn't do anything because we had no staff'.
"I was told there were only two people on duty in the area other than two on in Murwillumbah."
Mr Phillips said trouble with gangs of young people around Pottsville and the Tweed coast had been increasing in the past 12 months.
"The coppers can't do anything because they're never here," he said.
"Pottsville needs a police presence. I've now got to pay more than $500 excess on my insurance, but there's no guarantee it won't happen again next week.
"Police are supposed to be able to protect us better than that, but this is going on all the time.
"Mary Jo was shaking for more than half an hour when we got home. It really frightened us."
The Daily News attempted to get a response from police yesterday but was told there was not a duty officer available to comment at either Tweed Heads or Byron Bay. Only select police can make comments to the media.
Mr Phillips said the problem of gangs of young people roaming the streets at night was ongoing.
"What gets me is that there were up to 15 young kids out on the street after midnight and their parents didn't have a clue where their kids were ... or they didn't care," he said.
Meanwhile, Tweed MP Neville Newell said last week that police numbers "are at a good level", with eight new police tasked to the Tweed/Byron Local Area Command, bringing the total to a record 186.
Nationals candidate Geoff Provest has promised to send more police to Murwillumbah, Kingscliff and the Tweed, with Kingscliff and Murwillumbah to become 24-hour stations.