Police play down crime fears after vicious assault at Newcastle beat

Police play down crime fears after vicious assault at Newcastle beat
Image: (Image credit: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

POLICE in Newcastle have told the Star Observer they believe an assault at a known beat, which left a man hospitalised, was an “isolated incident” despite reports gangs are targeting gay men in the area.

A 39-year-old man admitted himself to hospital on Wednesday, October 22 after being assaulted in the early hours of the morning in a car park adjacent to Braye Park, in the suburb of Waratah.

The victim, who had suffered a flat tyre, said he was dazzled by a bright light — possibly the head lights of a black ute which was in the car park at the time — and was then struck by a “projectile” that police have speculated could be a rock or similar blunt object.

He is now recovering from his injuries after having to undergo surgery from the attack.

Local media have reported “recurring” incidents whereby groups of young men have been targeting late night visitors to the park who are in turn fearful of speaking out in case their activities are revealed.

“I know of one friend who was assaulted by two young men who then stole his mobile phone and car keys before threatening to throw him off the cliff,” one man told the Newcastle Herald on condition of anonymity.

Another person reported being “threatened by a guy carrying a samurai sword… and the police don’t seem to want to do anything with it”.

Talking to the Star Observer, Newcastle City Command Crime Manager Steve Laksa said police were taking the incident seriously but the investigation had been hampered by a lack of witnesses and the time it took for them to be notified, which may have led to evidence being removed from the crime scene.

Several other vehicles were in the car park at the time and Laksa appealed for any witnesses to contact the police or Crimestoppers. He said why they were at Braye Park was not of interest and “privacy and confidentiality will be maintained”.

While there was no direct evidence to suggest the incident was homophobic in nature Laksa said it couldn’t be ruled out as “it is a known beat in the early hours of the morning so it is a potential motive”.

“Crimes of this nature are always of concern but this appears to be an isolated incident,” he said.

“Compared to our local area [crime in the park is] really insignificant – you could even call it a safe place.

“But I wouldn’t encourage people go there of a night, however, and you do have to have to maintain your personal security.”

In the last 12 months, one robbery and three assaults had been reported in the vicinity of Braye Park and while police do patrol the area Laksa said: “We focus on areas of high violence and crime and that isn’t one.”

Over the last two years, non-domestic violent crime has fallen by 9.6 per cent in Newcastle, with Laksa saying there were no “significant issues” when it came to bias-related crime be that on the grounds of race or sexuality.

LGBTI health promotion body ACON confirmed they had been in discussions with local police following the incident.

Chief executive Nicolas Parkhill said while ACON had received no direct reports from community members about homophobic violence occurring in Braye Park, “due to coverage in the local media about homophobic violence occurring at this location, we would advise people who use this area as a beat to exercise caution in order to ensure their safety”.

Parkhill said reports of homophobic violence could also be made through ACON’s Anti-Violence Project.

If you can help police with this incident contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000 or ACON on (02) 9206 2116 or visit www.acon.org.au.

Have you experienced homophobic incidents at Braye Park? Get in touch with the Star Observer at [email protected]

(Image credit: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

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33 responses to “Police play down crime fears after vicious assault at Newcastle beat”

  1. The beat in question usually has a high “visibility” of Police presence & when you are there you are interrogated within an inch of your life by them, so someone tell me how this can happen….. & as for the Police saying the Hunter Region, Newcastle is safe, well lets just say it’s not just the bashers u need to worry about…

    • The police only interrogate you because you allow them too, if they have no lawful right to detain you tell them to and walk on.

      Peoples passive actions give the Police the power you complain about ….. they don’t actually have the right to even ask fit your details without a valid reason.

    • good advice Kristian, people need to stick together and stand their ground… though it’s often difficult when you’re alone and an officer is shining a torch in your face and throwing around all sorts of accusations – even making derogatory and homophobic comments… if you ask an officer for their name (they often don’t wear identification) or why you’ve been approached, they get nasty… and when officers don’t get the response they want, they’re likely to further intimidate you with an ‘illegal’ vehicle search and/or ‘dodgy’ fine… if you then make a complaint about an officer, police treat you like crap – including the GLLOs… forget about reporting to the AVP, they’re not going to upset NSW Police and lose funding opportunities.

    • the problem we have is that current policy is focused on ‘beat usage reduction’ by any means, rather than the safety of individuals using these areas for whatever purpose.

    • That is so true Richard, one particular beat I know of here in Sydney has been “visited”, I prefer targeted, by Police for “special” attention on a very regular basis.

  2. The beat in question usually has a high “visibility” of Police presence & when you are there you are interrogated within an inch of your life by them, so someone tell me how this can happen….. & as for the Police saying the Hunter Region, Newcastle is safe, well lets just say it’s not just the bashers u need to worry about…

  3. It’s Newcastle people the mentality of the wankers up there is just a joke and as for getting in trouble at,brae park or merry weather beach has been happening since day dot it’s not a new thing.. iif you go swimming at nob us beach while sharks are there GUESS WHAT your properly gunna get bitten .. Stay out of the parks or take what comes for putting ya self in danger.. Or learn how to fight

  4. As an x Novacastrian gay man Newcastle has never really supported the gay community just moved on to the next subject bashings occured regularly for 30 years no one does a thing thats why I left for the Emerald city so I’m shocked that people are so caught up with there own sexual confusion homophobia starts at home

  5. load of rubbish… officers at Newcastle and Waratah Police were aware of escalating homophobic violence in the area – this was not an ‘isolated incident’… men have reported damage to property, egg-throwing, muggings, and homophobic violence – providing dates, times, registration details, etc., yet police responded by harassing men (in particular a homophobic blonde female officer with a foul mouth), and attempted to fine men for legally parking in the area… we also understand that investigations were hindered, and a complaint is being prepared… as for ACON and the AVP, they have ignored reports of homophobic violence in the Hunter area for a number of years – they are not trusted because of their cosy relationship and funding arrangements with NSW Police, so men refuse to report to them… ACON has clearly failed the community and should not be trusted to speak on our behalf anymore.

  6. I’m sure if there were straight people banging there they’d see them as a vulnerable target and attack them too.

    It’s not like they are hunting people off grindr or bashing gay people in the street.

    It’s not right, but you’ve got to accept that you put yourself in danger by going to a place like that at that time.

  7. Yeah I do. Why? Because I have sex in appropriate places.

    He didn’t. Tough tits.

    Imagine if a child was walking passed with his parents whilst this guy was getting his rocks off…

    Seriously, get a room or Host! Simple