TWO men charged with the vicious bashing of 76-year-old North Nowra man Francois Beugels have been sentenced to six years in jail, but could be out on the streets in three-and-a-half years.
Joshua Chamberlain, 19, of McKay Street, Nowra and Wade Malcolm Dunley, 39, of Bunberra Street, Bomaderry pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with intent to rob with wounding.
Judge Chris Hoy issued a non-parole period of three-and-a-half years for both men.
He said the maximum penalty was 25 years but he took into account the pair’s guilty plea, their admissions and prospects for rehabilitation.
Outside the court, Mr Beugels said he was disappointed with the sentence but harboured no grudge against his attackers.
“I’m disappointed, certainly I’m disappointed,” he said.
“I was hoping they might have got more.”
In court, Mr Beugels broke down as Judge Hoy summed up the case, which included the facts about his attack.
“It was hard hearing it all again,” he said outside the court.
“It always is, every time I hear it. It is something I will live with for the rest of my life.
“Hopefully I can get on with my life and they can get on with theirs.”
Mr Beugels again thanked the residents of Page Avenue who came to his rescue on August 25, 2013.
“They saved my life and I can’t thank them enough,” he said.
Judge Hoy described the attack at “ferocious”.
“It was unprovoked, excessively aggressive behaviour, targeting an innocent victim to rob him,” he said.
“The attack was merciless and ongoing, extremely violent, with the victim beaten into submission.
“They went away and then came back and kicked him again in the head five or six times and were heard to say ‘He deserved it’. The pair later commented about kicking the victim at the same time in the head.
“Words can’t describe the terror felt and ongoing pain and fear for not only Mr Beugels but the witnesses.”
At the time of the attack, Chamberlain was out on bail for criminal assault and other antisocial behaviour a month earlier.
Evidence revealed the men had consumed a four-litre cask of wine and a bottle of spirits before the attack, while Dunley had also taken a quantity of non-prescription drugs prior to the attack.
In a victim impact statement read to the court Mr Beugels said his life had been turned upside down after the attack, leaving him with permanent injuries and living as a recluse.
“I’m left with shattered dreams,” he said.
He said the assault had affected him “physically, psychologically, mentally and emotionally.”
He described suffering permanent hearing loss and post traumatic stress disorder. Physical changes had also 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.
His statement said he had lost his independence and relies on home care for support. He requires community transport and friends because his driving capabilities have been affected.
Judge Chris Hoy spent the morning hearing Mr Beugels’ victim impact statement and submissions from defence lawyers Brett Ford for Chamberlain and Simone Foggo for Dunley and Department of Public Prosecutions solicitor Robert Taylor.
Mr Beugels sat just metres from his attackers and at times studied both men intently.
Chamberlain and Dunley sat in the dock during hearing and sentencing, both staring at the floor, occasionally glancing in Mr Beugels’ direction.
Chamberlain regularly placed his head in his hands.
In evidence 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.
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 which didn’t stop until local residents came to his aid.
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.