Bid to break gangs grip
A new squad aims to slash crime in Goonellabah, following a series of serious offences, SAMANTHA TURNBULL reports
A NEW 12-strong police taskforce has been set up to focus on Goonellabah after the brutal bashing of a teenage tourist, a series of armed robberies and numerous break-ins.
The most recent assault was of New Zealander Kieran Bulace while he was visiting a cousin in the area, who asked to not be named for fear of retribution.
The 17-year-old was beaten unconscious by a group of six people wielding batons in Goonellabah's Kadina Park three weeks ago.
The group, whose faces were covered with bandanas, yelled 'give us your mobile phone or we'll stab you', before knocking Kieran to the ground.
His cousin also suffered severe bruising and cuts from the attack.
Another cousin with them that night, Cody Mansill, also 17, and also from New Zealand, was not hurt in the incident.
Cody's father, Tony Mansill, said the boys were too traumatised to talk about the incident.
He said his nephews and son had been at the park for only 10 minutes when they were approached by the thugs.
"They kept asking Kieran for his phone, but he was knocked out on the ground and they just kept kicking him," he said.
"My other nephew saw that he wasn't moving so he went and reached into his pocket and gave them his cell phone.
"He got hit and kicked a few times as well when he was trying to grab the phone. They left as soon as they got it."
Kieran was hospitalised for a night with concussion and left Australia with nine stitches in his head. His cousin was left on crutches.
Richmond Local Area commander Supt Bruce Lyons said the assault was not carried out by a 'gang' as such.
"I don't believe there are problems with gangs in our command, but clearly there are teams of young people assisting one another to commit crimes," he said.
"There is too much crime in Goonellabah, but what concerns me is the level of serious crime such as aggravated break, enter and steals with weapons and robberies of businesses."
Supt Lyons said police would step up patrols, but it was not the only solution.
"I'm of the view that police intervention may be a short-term fix to the crime rate and is not the total answer to the social problems causing the level of crime in the area," he said.
October 5: Two men allegedly robbed the Goon Wah Chinese Restaurant in Rous Road at gunpoint. Police have arrested a 14-year-old male in relation to the incident.
September 25: Two teenage tourists assaulted in Kadina Park. One hospitalised with concussion. Mobile phone stolen. Police inquiries continuing.
September 22: A stolen car was driven through the glass doors of the Goonellabah RSL Club. Money was taken from an ATM inside. The car was found abandoned. Police inquiries continuing.
September 15: Thieves armed with axe handles and golf clubs allegedly robbed Video Ezy in Rous Road. Police have arrested two juvenile brothers.