8 May, 2023
Tensions high after street assault
TENSION is high in the Mareeba community following the serious assault of two men that left one needing emergency surgery after they allegedly rushed to the aide of an elderly man being attacked by a small gang.
Following the assault, members of the community took to the Mareeba Community Noticeboard to voice their frustration and angst, suggesting they may need to take matters in their own hands.
While police are still investigating the incident, a number of charges have been laid against seven perpetrators including a 13-year-old, three 14-year-olds, two 15-year-olds and one 27-year-old.
The assault victims were walking along Byrnes Street on 29 April when they noticed a man being harassed by a group. After attempting to intervene, the group of offenders then turned their fury on them, knocking one unconscious and causing severe lacerations – the victim was later airlifted to Cairns hospital.
The assault was captured by a nearby CCTV camera which has enabled police to identity the assailants and begin making arrests.
Officer in Charge of the Mareeba Police Station Senior Sergeant Derek Garner confirmed the offending group was a mix of both youth and adult offenders but denied the rumour that it was a gang of 20 or so people as reported on social media.
“It is still under investigation and not everyone has had action taken against them yet, there are still outstanding people at this stage,” he said.
“What I can say is there was a group, I wouldn’t say there was 20, it was probably considerably less.
“There was a disturbance on the main street and as a result of that two persons who were together received injuries – one was knocked unconscious.”
The Mareeba Community FB page drew a number of comments about the attack, including asking about a petition for a compulsory curfew in Mareeba which was met with a flurry of responses.
“They are not scared to commit a crime – what good is a curfew really,” Rodger Ramgett said.
Terry Chook Fowler believes a petition will “go nowhere” and implored the community to put pressure on Mareeba Shire Council for CCTV and lighting upgrades.
“A curfew isn’t going to stop these kids they don’t care about any law enforcement,” Kiera Brossman said.
Recently more and more locals have made comments on public forums such as the noticeboard about taking matters into their own hands and enacting their own justice.
But Snr Sgt Garner cautioned people against vigilantism, saying it was never the right way to handle crime and the best and most effective way was always to contact the police.
“We hear about it especially through social media comments across the board whether it is Mareeba, Queensland or any community in Australia – vigilantism is something you hear about a lot” he said.
“Police strongly advise people not to consider vigilantism as a solution because it would result in more problems than it would ever fix.
“People don’t have the correct information, the training or the tools, or the legislative authority which results in placing themselves danger of injury to themselves or causing harm to an innocent member of the public which then puts them in the fire line of action for police.”
Snr Sgt Garner has advised locals to take simple measures to help keep themselves safe and reduce the risk of being a victim of crime.
These include home security, keeping your vehicle secure, the vehicle’s keys and when people have evidence such as dashcam or CCTV footage, to provide it to police so they can take appropriate action