Michael and Margaret Ford arrive at court with son Sam .
Michael and Margaret Ford arrive at court with son Sam . John Gass

Sam's basher cops six years

MARGARET Ford broke down on the steps of the Southport Courthouse yesterday, angry at the unfair fate dealt to her family.

Her son Sam was made permanently disabled after being king-hit by Damian Robert James Ford at Coolangatta on the night of October 10, 2009.

The 19-year-old attacker was sentenced to six years jail by District Court judge John Newton yesterday, with the possibility of parole in two years.

But it was made clear in the courtroom that Sam and his Cabarita Beach family have been dealt a life sentence.

Sam, 19, is now confined to a wheelchair, unable to care for himself, eat, talk, hear, or see properly. He will need 24-hour-a-day care for the rest of his life.

“We are devastated, we are absolutely devastated. Damian Ford gets two years; our son has a life sentence” Mrs Ford said.

“Two years, you know, it is just so unfair. Unfair for our son’s life, unfair for our whole family, unfair for our whole community.

“It is wrong.”

Damian Ford, of Tweed Heads, who is no relation to the victim and goes by the surname Wyatt, yesterday pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to Sam Ford. He also pleaded guilty to assaulting

Sam’s girlfriend Meghan Colivas, in the same incident, for which he was sentenced to nine months jail.

Judge John Newton said the case was not easy for anyone involved.

“Here, as the result of a very short period of gratuitous violence, two young men have had their lives irreparably and catastrophically, in the case of the complainant,affected.”

Sam had started a career as a carpenter, and was a talented surfer, while Ford is a gifted rugby league player who had interest from the Gold Coast Titans before the incident.

Judge Newton said the Victim Impact Statements (VIS) were hard to read.

“It is clear from the VIS that the injuries sustained by the complainant have not only been catastrophic for the complainant himself, but in effect have also destroyed the quality of life for his family members.”

The victims were walking along Griffith Street in Coolangatta about 9pm DST when they were approached by an angry- looking Ford, who made clear his intention to fight Sam.

Sam had somehow off- ended Ford at a Pottsville party a fortnight earlier and Ford wanted to fight.

Sam tried to walk away from Ford but was blocked.

Miss Colivas stood between the two young men, telling Ford to go away in an effort to prevent him attacking her boyfriend.

Even Damian Ford’s friends, who had approached the victims with him, had told him to “leave it”, and go. But he wasn’t listening.

Miss Colivas was still between the pair when Ford launched the attack near Dutton Street. His elbow connected with her head as he threw a punch.

Another punch hit Sam in the head and he fell heavily onto the bitumen of the road, unconscious.

Ford and his friends immediately fled, unaware Sam had a fractured skull and had bleeding on the brain.

A nearby bottle shop employee heard Ford bragging about the incident later that night.

Another witness heard Ford say: “If it wasn’t for Sam’s girlfriend, I would have kicked his head in”.

Ford is an insulin-dependent diabetic, and becomes aggressive when he drinks too much alcohol.

On the night of the attack Ford had consumed about 10 drinks.

Ford’s defence solicitor James Godbolt said while the witness had heard Ford make the claims, the violence ended after Sam was felled. Ford has also abstained from alcohol since the incident.

Judge Newton accepted Ford had showed early and sincere remorse over the incident.

“(It) seems a classic crime where one punch results in terrible and permanent injuries.” Judge John Newton.

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