The scene of the assault - Queen Elizabeth Park, Coolangatta.
The scene of the assault - Queen Elizabeth Park, Coolangatta. Felicia Kosegi

Off-duty soldier bashed by teens

AN Australian Defence Force soldier was “beaten beyond recognition” on Boxing Day in a vicious attack by a pack of youths in Coolangatta.

The 19-year-old, a former Tweed Heads resident, was attacked in Queen Elizabeth Park by an unknown number of 12- to 16-year-olds about 9.30pm on Saturday night in the presence of two 17-year-old female friends, according to police.

A close friend to the soldier, who did not wish to be named, told the Tweed Daily News it was attempted murder as far as they were concerned.

“He’s defending our country and these punks just beat him up,” they said.

“Seeing him so badly beaten beyond recognition just sickened me.”

The 19-year-old joined the armed forces about nine months ago and was off-duty for the Christmas break.

He is due to be deployed to Afghanistan in about six months.

“They kicked him in the head about 20 times, his head was like a lumpy ball,” the close friend said.

“Fluid was building up and they feared a brain haemorrhage, luckily the CT scan revealed it was OK but they have badly broken his nose.”

The man was also left with a damaged kidney, black eyes and a hole through his lip which had to be stitched up.

He is still awaiting surgery on his nose.

The friend said the 19-year-old was escorting the two 17-year-old women to a taxi bay when they first crossed paths with the youths.

The group of 12- to 16-year olds then followed them down to Queen Elizabeth Park, on the corner of Marine Parade and McLean Street, where the assault took place.

The two girls were knocked down during the fight and received slight bruising and the soldier was robbed of his wallet.

He was taken to Tweed Hospital following the attack but was discharged on Sunday.

“The police were fantastic, they never left his side and called many times during the night at the hospital to see how he was doing,” the friend said.

No charges have been laid according to police.

“These juveniles need to be put through the courts as adults if they commit an adult crime.

“Innocent victims are being assaulted for their pleasure and bragging rights,” the close friend said.

“It’s time politicians and the law stepped up and start to take control. These kids should be locked up.

“It’s time to get this sorted.”

It is believed the soldier is currently resting at a relative’s residence in Tweed Heads.

The Boxing Day bashing is the latest incident in a string of assaults in the Coolangatta precinct this year.

In September, 23-year-old Murwillumbah man Andrew Houlahan was killed by one punch during an assault in Griffith Street.

A month later, 18-year-old Cabarita teenager Sam Ford received brain injuries as the result of a brawl.

Yesterday, the Tweed Daily News reported 22-year-old Tweed Heads student Sachin Surendran returned to his native home of India after he was attacked outside an unmanned Coolangatta Police Station in June. He blamed the assault for his decision to leave the country.

Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce president Gail O’Neill said it was time the Queensland State government stepped in.

“The chamber is concerned about it and we’re going to lobby the government to allocate more police to the area,” Ms O’Neill said.

“After a certain hour a night they (the police) begin running on skeleton staff and they have a big area to cover.

“Also, there are no licensed venues open to 3am in Tweed Heads, so everyone from there crosses the border but the Tweed Heads Police obviously don’t follow them.”

“The chamber is concerned about it. We need more police presence.”

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