Hunting for closure
BANORA POINT man Graeme Hunt is waiting with bated breath for the sentencing of his assailant later this week.
Mr Hunt recently had to relive every pain-staking moment of his life, since the day he was gunned down in his driveway during a bungled robbery in Sydney in 2014.
Mr Hunt was an innocent bystander who ran to screams for help, when he was shot in the chest by Ali Chaouk, who has pleaded guilty to discharging the firearm.
Reading a Victim Impact Statement by video-link from the Tweed Hospital to the Darlinghurst District Court on May 13, Mr Hunt told Justice Donna Woodburn, the bullet remained lodged in his spine.
The injury has left Mr Hunt a paraplegic and in a wheelchair for life.
“I will no longer play touch football, walk around the golf course or go for a bike ride,” Mr Hunt said.
“My daily care, which involves personal care and hygiene that took 15 minutes, now takes three to four hours some days.”
The 64-year-old former truck driver moved from Merrylands in Sydney’s west to Banora Point, following eight months in hospital for rehabilitation.
“I am traumatised by the once happy family street and suburb I grew up in that is now a battlefield filled with guns and serious crime,” he said.
Mr Hunt abandoned plans to travel after being forced to take an early retirement.
“My job as a truck driver of heavy vehicles is finished,” Mr Hunt said.
“I no longer work for the company I was employed with for 29 years. I was only three years off retirement, ready to go travelling and to have fun with my friends and family.”
Mr Hunt said despite the fact he was more grateful to be alive than bitter, he remained “a bit angry at the world”.
Reflecting on the delivery of his statement to the court, Mr Hunt said he was relieved it was now all over.
“It was powerful, it was articulate; at one moment I did falter, but I didn’t become overwhelmed,” he said.
“I didn’t think it would be, but it is a weight off your shoulders.
“If the punishment fits the crime so be it, there’s not much else I can do.”
Justice Woodburn is deliberating on a sentence for the accused in the shooting, with a hearing set for June 17. Mr Hunt plans advocacy work for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia in the future.