A Go Fund Me page has been set up to support the victim of a violent bashing in Pakenham.
Ben Woolley was assaulted by a gang of youths on Saturday 2 January, after attempting to step in to stop them from attacking another girl in Ron Andrews Park.
The Pakenham man said he and his partner, Jess and their three children, returned from a beach outing to see the assault taking place in the park near their house.
Ben, a military veteran, ran across to the park, yelling at the group to “stop fighting”, and tried to use crowd control techniques to separate them from their victim.
“They wouldn’t listen to reason so they surrounded me and started to attack me,” he said.
He was hit multiple times in the head with steel bars and bottles, and was held down while he was repeatedly punched in the face.
Jess filmed the ordeal on her phone and was herself assaulted.
“The women were shouting, ‘kill him’,” Ben said.
“I kept regaining consciousness and trying to stand on my feet again but I kept getting knocked down. Next thing I knew I was in the back of an ambulance.”
Ben suffered a concussion, internal bleeding, cracked ribs, a broken nose and damage to his teeth.
He has also experienced an increase in his cluster headaches, a remnant from his army days.
Despite the extent of his injuries, Ben said he has no regrets and is glad that the original victim got away.
He and Jess hold concerns for their kids, who witnessed the attack.
“We’ve just tried to tell them that there are some bad people in the world, that not all black people are bad but that gang is black and they’re bad,” he said.
“The main thing now is to encourage them not to be fearful.”
The couple said that since the assault, they’ve been contacted by other residents who have shared that they’re too scared to walk their dogs or send their children to the park, in case they are also targeted by a gang.
Jess said they have considered moving, but don’t want to leave other victims behind.
Ben plans to set up a private security company with some of his former colleagues, to offer security services to locals and businesses.
He said it would not be a vigilante group but rather would operate within the law to “help create peace”.
“It’s what we see as a practical response to a real need in the community that isn’t provided so far,” he said.
“More protection needs to be in place because it almost feels like a war zone starting,” Jess added.
She said they’ve been overwhelmed by the level of community support shown to them as Ben begins his recovery.
“My prognosis is good, I will be OK but it’s going to take some time,” Ben explained.
The Gazette understands two people have been arrested in relation to the incident.
Police are still searching for the other offenders. Anyone who witnessed the assault, or who has information surrounding the incident, is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au
To support the family’s Go Fund Me, visit https://gofund.me/d8c8345e