Fifty-seven year Perth-resident Michael Buhle remembers the first words he heard when he reached an under construction building site and was met by three men swinging baseball bats.
“The first guy said, ‘we are going to teach you a lesson’,” Buhle told Star Observer in an email interview, recovering from the vicious homophobic attack that left him with a broken jaw, fractured skull and fearing for his life.
Buhle, was one of the two men in Perth, who were lured by through the online dating app Scruff to an under construction site and then brutally attacked last month. The other victim was a man in his 40s.
Armadale detectives have now arrested and charged one of the accused men and are on the lookout for the other accused.
Man Charged In Homophobic Attack Case
“A 26-year-old man from Gosnells has been charged with two counts of intent to harm and causing bodily harm and one count of stealing. He has also been charged with other drug offences, which are unrelated to the two assault incidents,” the Western Australia Police Force said in a statement. .
The accused appeared in a Perth Magistrates Court on April 3, 2021, and is due to reappear in the Armadale Magistrates Court on April 23, 2021.
Buhle says there are large gaps in his memory of that night, but remembers that it all started, when a stranger pinged him on Scruff and invited him for a quickie.
“In hindsight instead of exercising a degree of caution I jumped at the chance for a memorable encounter – little did l know just how memorable. I jumped in the car and headed to this half built empty house 10 minutes away, which should have set alarm bells off but I did it anyway,” Buhle said.
‘Will Never Forget Him Swinging The Baseball Bat At Me’
It was around 3 am on March 29, 2021 when he walked through a large opening into the house. As soon as his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he realised he had made a mistake of trusting the stranger who had sent him the message on the app.
Three men emerged from the darkness with baseball bats slung over their shoulders and started walking towards him.
“I just felt overwhelming terror and started whimpering to myself. I turned and started towards the car. The next thing I remember is being stooped over and seeing this guy take a full swing with the bat striking my left temple, l will never ever forget watching him swing that bat towards me,” Buhle recalls.
What followed seems like a blur, and all he felt was “a rapid succession of sharp thuds about my head.” Then as suddenly as it started, the attack stopped.
“I didn’t see them leave, I stumbled to my feet ,my head was covered in blood and I could feel it dripping in clumps onto my shirt. I stumbled towards my car all the time whimpering and crying in cough like fits,” Buhle said. His hand seemed frozen as he kept pushing the button repeatedly to unlock the car.
“I was petrified they would come out of the shadows,” said Buhle. When he finally managed to get into the car and drove off, he exhaled loudly, partly relieved and partly grateful for having escaped.
Two Attacks In A Week
Buhle’s first stop was to the hospital for treatment of his injuries. He was in the hospital for four days. After he filed a complaint, he found out that another man had fallen victim to the same gang of men on March 22, 2021 around 1 am.
According to the Armadale Detectives investigating the attacks, both incidents were linked to the use of the same online messaging application that was used to lure the victims to the under construction house on Margaret Street, in the suburb of Gosnell, located 17 kilometres south east of Perth CBD.
“The house was under construction and there were several men there. In each instance the victims were assaulted,” the police said in a statement.
The police have asked anyone who was a victim of a similar attack or witnessed any suspicious activity in Margaret Street at the time of the attacks or has dash-cam footage of the area at the time or has any information about the incidents, to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at www.crimestopperswa.com.au.
If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.
For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14
For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.