North Nowra bashing victim’s life turned upside down

NOWRA District Court has heard how North Nowra bashing victim, Francois Beugels’ life had been turned upside down after the attack last August, leaving him with permanent injuries and living as a recluse.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mr Beugels, 76 at the time, described how the assault had forever changed his life.

He said the “vicious, relentless and sustained assault”, had turned his life completely upside down “physically, psychologically, mentally and emotionally.”

“I’m left with shattered dreams” he said.

He described suffering permanent hearing loss which led to him recently being fitted with an advanced hearing aid. He suffers from post traumatic disorder and physical changes had been noted in his brain through an MRI.

He has lost recent memory and suffers attention, concentration and reaction deficit as well as vertigo and balance problems.

“I used to make prompt decisions, now I suffer from acute procrastination,” his statement said.

He said he used to be calm and composed but was now easily excitable and irritable, with his private and social life are profoundly affected.

His statement said he had virtually lost his independence, relies on home care for support, community transport and friends because his driving capabilities have been affected.

He is still undergoing counselling.

He said he was unable to go out for walk without being accompanied and spent too much time between his four walls living as a recluse.

The court heard Joshua Chamberlain, 19, of McKay Street, Nowra and Wade Malcolm Dunley, 39, of Bunberra Street, Bomaderry were both severely affected by alcohol when they attacked Mr Beugels in August last year.

Both pleaded guilty to the charge of aggravated assault with intent to rob with wounding/grievous bodily harm.

In court on Friday morning, Mr Beugels sat just metres from his attackers and at times studied both men intently.

Chamberlain and Dunley sat in the dock during the two-hour hearing, both staring at the floor, occasionally glancing in Mr Beugels’direction.

Chamberlain regularly placed his head in his hands and at one stage was so bent over staring at the floor he could  hardly be seen in the dock.

Judge Chris Hoy heard Chamberlain “wanted to roll somebody” looking for money.

“The image of a bland, pale face devoid of all emotion keeps on haunting me and sends a chill down my spine.” Francois Beugels

The pair came across Mr Beugels while he was on an evening walk and “stalked him” before launching their attack.

At the time Mr Beugels was listening to an iPod, trying to perfecting his knowledge of Mandarin for a planned trip to China for a book he was writing, documenting a previous trip when he spent three months backpacking unaccompanied as a 75-year-old.

The court heard the men approached Mr Beugels from behind and struck him with such force he fell to the ground, his head hitting the roadway.

In the attack that followed, he was struck and kicked in the head numerous times.

In his statement Mr Beugels described feeling two feet on him simultaneously, as if someone was jumping up and down on his neck and head.

Throughout the attack he tried to protect his head from the repeated kicks with his arms.

He said he screamed for help “with all his being” and remembered thinking there would only be two outcomes, either he would be silenced or someone would come to his aid.

The pair left the scene for around 10 seconds before returning to steal Mr Beugels’ wallet and continue the assault.

He again called for help and residents of Page Avenue came to his aid, which scared off the offenders.

One witness reported hearing the defendants joke about kicking him simultaneously in the side of the head as they left the scene.

Mr Beugels said during the assault he attempted to get up and came face to face with one of his assailants.

“The image of a bland, pale face devoid of all emotion keeps on haunting me and sends a chill down my spine,” he said.

Solicitor Brett Ford for Chamberlain and Simone Foggo for Dunley put final submissions before the judge, as did Department of Public Prosecutions solicitor Robert Taylor.

Judge Hoy adjourned the hearing to consider some matters of law and is expected to lay down a sentence on Friday afternoon.

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