Attacks grow more vicious

By Jane Gardner

A SERIES of vicious, unprovoked, attacks in the hearts of Lismore and Ballina have prompted fresh police warnings the streets are not safe after dark.

In the most disturbing attack, in Ballina on Sunday, a young man was brutally beaten and held against his will for over an hour.

Police say the Alstonville teen, 17, was riding his bike on Bangalow Road at 1am when he was accosted, beaten and forced into a nearby house.

After escaping, he managed to get to the Ballina District Hospital emergency department with a broken nose, broken jaw, bruising, cuts and swelling.

No arrests have been made, but police are following a number of leads.

Crime prevention officer Senior Constable Michael Hogan said violent criminals were taking advantage of people as they leave pubs, because their defences were affected by alcohol.

"A lot of these assaults are alcohol related and the victims have been on their way home from a function," he said.

"The risk factor increases when people are intoxicated because their ability to make rational decisions is affected. Instead of calling a taxi, they might be tempted to walk the back streets home."

Police are warning anyone planning a night out to rethink walking home alone.

In Lismore, a Clunes man was beaten and robbed after leaving a pub on Molesworth Street late on Thursday night. He was set upon by a number of attackers who stole his wallet and mobile phone after punching and kicking him to the ground.

Sen Const Hogan said the attack was particularly nasty and was not picked up by CCTV surveillance.

"It appears it was a random attack. He was moving from one venue to another and was seen as an easy target," he said. "He was kicked severely while he was on the ground."

The latest violent assault happened on the corner of Cherry and Winston Streets in Ballina at 3.24am on Sunday.

Two men aged 20 and 21 were beaten while waiting for a taxi. The men said they did not know their assailants.

Sen Const Hogan said the ferocity of violent attacks was increasing and warned anyone planning a night out to stay as a group, in well-lit areas and put aside money for a taxi instead of walking.

"There hasn't been a spike in violence, but the level of violence is increasing," he said.

"A lot of these crimes are opportunistic. People put themselves in vulnerable situations and offenders do horrible things to them. The victims often suffer horrendous injuries, both physical and psychological."

The warning also follows last month's incident near the Lismore Tourist Caravan Park, where a good samaritan who stepped in to aid a young woman was allegedly bashed and robbed by five youths.

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