ACT News

'I can't believe people can be so cowardly': victim reveals impact of one punch

Aidan Chard knows the pain of a punch can linger long after the moment a fist unexpectedly strikes a face.

He was 20 when he was hit in the jaw in an unprovoked attack outside a Gungahlin mall takeaway shop one Friday night in 2012.  

"I was almost at the door and I heard 'Oi'," he said. "I turned around and just – fist to the face.

"I felt my jaw break. My mouth was just hanging on, really ... it shattered my jaw."

Three years on, Aidan, now 23, knows it could have been worse. He says he could have been knocked unconscious, or killed. 

As it was, the force of that punch was enough to bring him to his knees before his attackers continued to beat him. 

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He remained conscious and was taken to the hospital as blood and saliva poured from his mouth. Doctors inserted three metal plates and 11 screws in his shattered jaw.

Feeling still hasn't returned to his bottom lip, his jaw gets stiff in cold weather and he experiences more headaches. 

"One hit can really do a lot of damage."

His experience has led him to support tougher penalties for unprovoked assaults, such as those enacted in NSW and Victoria.

Aidan said as well as the niggling physical pain, he had faced a gamut of emotions in the years since the attack. 

"Afterwards I got angry at everything. I was really pissed off at the whole situation. I went through so much pain and suffering because of this one dude I'd never met who caused me so much heartache."

At the root of his anger was the random nature of the attack – "Why did I deserve that to happen to me? I didn't do anything wrong" – as well as the fact his attacker, who was under 18, escaped with a good behaviour bond. 

After the assault Aidan knocked back an opportunity to meet with the perpetrator, saying he wouldn't have been able to control his anger if they met in person.

"I had so much hate for this dude because he just caused not only me but my whole family to go through this pain and suffering.

"It was a real rough time."

Aidan said footage of one-punch assaults he'd watched since that had led to brain injuries, or even death, made him feel sorry for victims and their families. 

"People that aren't even looking at the dude that hits them, complete dog-shots. I can't believe people could be so cowardly. It's absolutely putrid.

"People don't understand how dangerous it is to take a fist to the face. It's really, really easy to do some serious damage. You can kill someone."

He said he was strongly in favour of separate one-punch offences for the territory that could attract tougher penalties for perpetrators and believed such laws would be the only effective deterrent. 

"A fair fight is one thing but getting king hit when you're not expecting it, not even looking at it, something has to happen about that," he said.

The ACT opposition has proposed tougher laws for anyone found guilty of one-punch attacks, a move Attorney-General Simon Corbell has resisted on grounds such assaults were covered by existing offences. 

Aidan's father, Royce Chard, described his son's assault as "traumatic" and said there didn't appear to be a punishment in place that was effective in stopping one-punch-type attacks. 

"Drug and alcohol-related violence is just terrible. You get in the wrong place, at the wrong time and get hit and you're gone. 

"It takes lives away and is just traumatic for the whole family."

"Until they get a bigger punishment it will just go on, and on, and on. Because a slap on the wrist and a good behaviour bond is just not good enough."

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