A man who was beaten unconscious by a gang before being viciously attacked by the Good Samaritan who came to his aid, says he is now terrified to leave his apartment, as local police issue a warning about homophobic crime two weeks ahead of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
Irish-born Dylan Souster was punched in the face on Sunday morning (February 21) by a man helping him return home, after an earlier assault by a group of seven young people left the 22-year-old unconscious in Waterloo Oval, reports Sydney Morning Herald
After spending the evening with friends at the apartment shared with boyfriend Darren Hedderman, also from Ireland, Souster went outside to ensure their guests safely hailed a taxi.
After falling asleep, Hedderman woke 90 minutes later to Souster screaming for help. "He walked up McEvoy Street a little bit and couldn't see them [their guests], so he turned around," Hedderman said.
"As he turned around, somebody hit him, and the next thing he remembers is waking up in Waterloo Oval being kicked in the head.
“He doesn't know how he got to the oval. We don't know whether he was dragged there or whether he ran, he doesn't remember."
Hedderman adds the second assault was by a "good Samaritan-turned-bad”. "They finally stopped kicking him in the oval and [Souster] started to come home,” he said.
“He met a guy on the street and asked him for help, and the guy said 'Yeah, no problem, are you OK? What happened? So the guy walked him all the way back to our apartment block."
After reaching the apartment block, the man asked Souster if he wanted to call his girlfriend, at which point Soutster clarified he was gay.
"And he said 'Oh you have a boyfriend, you're a queer', and he hit him in the face," said Hedderman.
Souster was later treated at St Vincents’ Hospital multiple facial fractures, tooth dislodgement and a possible head injury.
He told Gay Star News
the first attack “was a complete blur”. “I just remember being hit in the face by a male,” Souster said.
“I don’t know if I ran towards the oval in shock to get away or whether he forced me there but I remember waking up in the oval being kicked and punched all over my body by a group of males.
“I don’t know if it was because I am gay but to look at me you’d know I am gay and especially with a few drinks in me.
“The guy that tried to help me seemed genuine as he walked me within 50 metres of my apartment. It was only when he asked what had happened and I mentioned that ‘me and my boyfriend’ that he freaked out and said, ‘you’re one of those fags, ya f**king queer c**t”.
“Then he turned on me and hit me into the face, full force. I then ran home thinking he was following but he had turned away and ran, according to CCTV.”
In the days since the attacks, Souster has been too scared to leave his apartment. “I’m terrified to leave my apartment now. I’ve been having nightmares of feet coming towards my face and waking me up,” he said.
“I honestly thought I was going to die in that oval. I’ve never been so scared in my life. Hopefully the people that done this will be caught so that it can’t happen to anyone else.’
Detectives from Redfern Local Area Command are investigating the incidents, alongside another possible “bias-related assault” believed to be a gay-hate crime that took place in Surry Hills on the weekend.
“The occurrence of two bias-related assaults over one weekend is not common, and of concern to police,” NSW Police Spokesperson on Sexuality and Gender Diversity, Superintendent Tony Crandell, said in a statement.
“With the Mardi Gras season upon us, and with larger numbers of people visiting Sydney's inner suburbs, help police to keep you safe by being aware of your surroundings at all times and calling Triple Zero if you feel under threat.”
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