License article

Faces of the violence

As Daniel Christie remains on life support, those whose lives have been changed forever by violence speak out.

The perpetrator

As told by mentor Anna Janko from juvenile justice group Whitelion

Jason* was a few weeks shy of turning 18 when he almost bashed another young guy to death. Even to this day, five years later, he doesn't really know why he did it.

He'd never done anything like it before. He and two mates were in Newcastle and had been drinking for about 24 hours straight.

Jason didn't know the boy but one of his mates did. He just happened to walk past the group as they were hanging out and one of the boys had a problem with him. He hadn't said anything, he hadn't done anything. They just attacked him, totally unprovoked.

Looking back, Jason is so ashamed of it. He did it because he was off his head and bored, and his mate had an issue with this guy. He can't explain it any better than that.

It was just something to do when they were totally wasted and bored. It's hard for the public to understand why and it's hard for Jason to as well.


It's his biggest regret.

Jason was given a two-year jail sentence.

When he was locked up, he started to think he was never going to be any better than that.

He showed an interest in getting a job when he got out.

He was allowed to go on pre-release to start working in a call centre.

Jason grew up with his single mother in Newcastle and was quite fortunate in that she was very supportive of him, but he had no male role models.

His criminal record will haunt him forever. He's been promoted twice and is now a warehouse supervisor but he tried to move into another job recently and couldn't because of his record.

*Name has been changed

The victim

Fady Taiba, Hospital training officer, security guard and father of four

Fady Taiba

Every morning when I wake up and see a huge scar down the middle of my head, it brings back memories.

I would never wish this upon anyone. I've just spent three months in hospital and will have another six months of rehab. I want to go back to work, I want to be able to support my family again. I can't drive myself anywhere, I can't go for a walk around the block on my own because there's a risk of seizures.

I've been in security for 23 years and I've never, ever hurt anyone. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I remember waking up in the hospital ward and seeing my family for the first time. I didn't really know what was going on or what had happened to me. I didn't know why I was lying in a hospital bed and slowly they told me that I'd been punched at work and had been in a coma for three weeks.

I had no bone in half my skull because they had to take it out to relieve the pressure and I just had this huge soft spot in my head. It looked deformed. I looked absolutely terrible. Eventually I moved from St Vincent's Hospital to Liverpool Hospital because it was just too hard for my family to travel in every day from Campbelltown.

I've had to learn how to walk and talk again. Physio can be three or four hours a day and then there's all the medication and the injections in my stomach for blood clots.

I just keep thinking about my family, my wife and my four boys. They've gone through so much as well and I can't help but think what would [have] happened if I was out of the picture.

UBS banker James Longworth has been charged with punching Mr Taiba after being refused entry to Bar 333 on George Street on September 6.

The cop

Oliver Behrens, City Central and Surry Hills policeman

Oliver Behrens

By the time we attend an incident on a Friday or Saturday night, we almost always face violence and aggression.

The initial cause of the conflict can vary but the common denominator is the same: sometimes drugs, overwhelmingly alcohol.

Drunk people are incredibly difficult. They have a skewed self-righteous sense of the world.

''It was the other guy's fault for bumping into me, he didn't apologise, either, so I shoved him back.''

''It was security's fault because they ejected me instead of him.''

''Surely this is an illegal arrest, I am the victim, this is a clear case of police brutality. I demand these wrists be photographed and the police officer charged. I will sue you guys.''

''I refused to get into the paddy wagon, so when police pushed me in I kicked back at them, hitting one of the police in the face. I'm not sorry. I was just defending myself.''

This is a common drunk male.

Drunk offenders often have higher pain tolerances so they're less likely to stop a fight after one or two punches, and it makes it difficult for us to use compliance and control methods such as wrist-locks to handle violent and volatile offenders.

It usually ends with the male spending the next eight or so hours in a cell sobering up while several police spend several hours to complete charges such as failing to leave a licensed premises and assaulting police, which will usually end up in a small fine and a good behaviour bond at court.

It takes hours to arrest and charge an offender. We'll then spend many more hours collecting evidence and witness statements in preparing the brief for court, if required.

All for something that started as one bloke bumping into another in a crowded pub.

The nurse

Ann Morrice, St Vincent's Hospital after hours nurse manager

Ann Morrice

Usually they'll come in with bleeding noses, split lips, black eyes or vomit all over them. Often they're abusive to the staff in the emergency ward. And then there's the ones that want to continue partying in the waiting room.

On a Friday and Saturday night, it'll range from drunk patients who are just here because it's simply unsafe for them to go home until they've had a bit of fluid and a rest, to people who have severe head injuries.

They might have been punched or glassed, they might have been hit by a car, they might have been driving the car drunk.

If there's a serious head injury, a major trauma call will go out as soon as they're admitted and they're usually taken immediately to a theatre by the neurosurgeon where they often have part of their skull removed to ease the pressure.

We keep one intensive care bed free for every Friday and Saturday night, just in case. We need to make sure we're ready to go because you never know what's going to happen.

Sometimes, it gets to you. You really question why it's all happening. How has society reached this point, where these kids are coming in drunk and covered in blood from a night out?

But I'm just so pleased there are people there who will pick them up when they're injured.

I've got such great admiration for the emergency department staff.

I've got my own children in their early 20s and when they do go out for a night on the town, my thoughts are ''Thank goodness there are professionals around like the ambos and the emergency department staff who are there to pick people up and look after them''.