VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT – PRIMARY VICTIM
Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999, Section 30
1. Name of Victim: Simon
Name of Offender: Mark
(Names have been changed)
Charges to which this statement relates: Cause grievous bodily harm
Sentencing Court: East Maitland Court
Sentencing date: 11st August,2008
2. Details of Personal bodily harm suffered as a direct result of the offences:
In 2001, I was selected in the NSW Under 17 State Rugby Union team, two of my team mates were Adam Ashley Cooper and Benn Robinson who are now constant members of the Wallabies.
I had an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic and life was good. The next year, I was again playing rugby and had been offered a position to play rugby at North Sydney. I was selected to tour Sri Lanka with the Under 18’s Country Rugby team. Three weeks out from our departure, I was a passenger in a car that rolled four times and I was diagnosed with a broken neck. My life was turned upside down. I had always imagined playing rugby, surfing and enjoying life but after missing nine months of work and having daily physiotherapy for months nothing seemed like it would ever be the same.
After three and half years, I was told I could return to playing rugby. I started playing again, just Club football – and I really loved being a part of a team again. I had missed that! I had lost contact with a lot of friends because it was too hard to just go and watch football. Life was becoming normal again!
Everything about my life changed, on 27th October 2007, the night Mark chose to use a broken glass as a weapon, stabbing me in the face, and slicing open my eyeball.
My recovery from the broken neck now seems something of a cruel joke – because once again I have had taken away from me the normal life and expectations I felt I had a second chance to achieve.
I think most young people assume they have a natural right to safety and to their sight. I know I thought I’d already had enough life challenges for one person. The attack taught me again how cruelly vulnerable the human body is, and to take nothing for granted. At first there was some medical hope I might regain some vision. Through each of eight operations so far, I have lived in hope and prayed for some restoration of my sight, but my hopes continue to fade - I now have a prosthetic eye!
Losing the sight in one eye means driving is no longer easy, or pleasant, especially at night. I limit my driving to lessen the personal stress it creates. Driving during the day causes problems with the glare from the sun. I find I cannot easily go to the beach and surf, because of the sun and the reaction of the eye to saltwater.
I have been asked to leave a licensed premise because I looked intoxicated – my eye is often red and inflamed. There’s no point in pleading my case – I can’t afford unnecessary risk. I feel revictimised and silenced. I find I hide my face away – I wear hats, hoods, sunglasses to try to distract others from seeing my scars and my eye. I often go unshaven trying to hide the scars. I went out for a beer with some mates, and one smart bloke made a joke saying ‘ Oh you’ve dropped something – OH. It’s your eye!’ That is the type of thing that happens – I am now the butt of jokes because a bloke chose to stab me in the eye.
Headaches happen to me now, all too frequently. I find it hard to read, even the newspaper, and so I miss out on what’s happening in sport. I find watching television much harder and less enjoyable, and I used to love my Playstation, but I just can’t see well enough to enjoy a game now. I try to have a game with my little nieces but I just do it for them now.
I left school in Year 10 and became a qualified mechanic. I was good at it and planned to work in the mines for a while to earn a great income to build my home. The mines will not allow a partially blind diesel mechanic on site due to OH&S rules, and of course dust would be an irritant I wouldn’t want to encourage, so that future is closed now. The career I really wanted to end up in was to become a Police Officer. Having vision in two eyes is a requirement to join the Police Force.
My face is scarred. I hate being stared at. I hate having to constantly attend medical appointments.
Details of mental illness or nervous shock:
I am depressed. I feel such rage towards the person who did this to me. The damage to my eye has forced me to become a bit reclusive, to avoid the constant tenseness that someone will approach me or harm me from my blind side, or they will taunt me about my disability. The fact that everything I used to do is gone, my life is absolutely changed. I had plans for buying my own home, but have had to pay out all my savings for medical treatment. I used to love to go to the gym and manage my fitness – now I can’t afford it, and I have to be careful what I do – and I really hate feeling weak and helpless. I didn’t deserve this.
My ability to have relationships has been affected – what can I really offer a partner now?
I know I’m still welcome to go to games and social events with my mates, but I don’t feel an equal part of the team now. I don’t want anyone’s sympathy, I just want to be normal again, with a normal life of rewards for good work, with good people, with a great family of my own. I am so sorry for my family for the ordeal this crime has created for them, and I am grateful they are my family. I worry about who I am going to be in a few years time.
So here I am, 10 months after the crime that changed my life. I find myself obsessing over the fact that whatever sentence the court makes, I have already been given my sentence, and it is a heavy one – one that won’t be reduced – it will just get harder to accept and cope with as time goes by.
To be completed by the victim:
This statement is true to the best of my knowledge and belief
Signed …………………………… dated
I wish this statement to be read to the court
Signed …………………………… dated