The family of a cyclist who was left blinded and in a coma after allegedly being attacked by a gang of private school boys say they can’t ‘fathom how humanity is capable of that’.
Nine teenagers from some of Sydney’s most elite private schools have been arrested over the alleged ‘sadistic’ assault of Brett Halcro, 36, in Pyrmont on Friday night.
Mr Halcro, who was visiting Sydney from Melbourne, was allegedly knocked off his hire bike and bashed before a teenager ran in and ‘sliced’ his face seven times and plunged a knife into his eye.
A family member, who wished to remain unnamed, described Mr Halcro as ‘completely shy’ and ‘meek’.
The relative said he was struggling to come to terms with the boys allegedly gloating and laughing about the attack via text messages.
In the texts, one of the 15-year-old boys allegedly bragged to his friend in horrific detail about how the man was left blinded after being stabbed in the eye.
‘It’s incredibly difficult to fathom how humanity is capable of that in the first place,’ he told The Daily Telegraph.
‘Our family is just trying to focus on the recovery.’
In Surry Hills Children’s Court on Wednesday, a long-time magistrate gasped and looked away in disgust after seeing photographs of Mr Halcro’s horrific injuries.
A 15-year-old – who cannot be identified – is the latest teenager to so far be charged over the brutal attack.
He was refused bail, even after his mother pledged to quit her job to ensure he remain in home detention.
Magistrate Jeffrey Hogg turned away after photos of the injuries suffered by Mr Halcro were tendered in court by the prosecution.
Magistrate Hogg said it was concerning that someone so young needed to undergo drug and alcohol counselling, but was more worried about the lack of remorse that the group allegedly displayed in the hours afterwards.
‘What occurred on the social media platform after the event is distinctly counter-indicative of remorse,’ Magistrate Hogg said.
‘It’s a vile and horrific crime. The injuries are extraordinarily severe and life changing.
‘There is a strong prosecution case and it is a matter, should the offenses be proved, that a custodial sentence is in my estimation inevitable.’
In submissions to the court, police prosecutor Kai Jiang described the alleged attack as ‘sadistic’.
The teenager’s lawyer Veronica Love had earlier told the court that he had strong ties to the community and had suffered mental health issues.
Ms Love added that with the likelihood the matters will be heard in adult courts due to the serious nature of the allegations, it was likely the teenager would remain in juvenile detention until at least next year if refused bail.
‘I ask Your Honour to consider the length of time this young person is likely to spend in custody considering the seriousness and the likelihood that will not be resolved in this court,’ she said.
‘The young person is Year 10 at High School and he has in the past had some mental health issues.
‘This young person has never come before a court before and has never had any court alternatives. He has no history of violence.’
Ms Love also told the court it could not yet be known whether the teenager knew a member of his group was carrying a knife when they allegedly attacked the 36-year-old.
But the youngster was remanded in custody to reappear in court on September 29.
A day earlier the same court heard allegations that the attack had potentially come in response to one girl, who was among the group, claiming the man had raped her.
The group, who ranged in age from 15 to 18, had hired an Airbnb in the city for Friday night.
It is understood that at one point Mr Halcro rode his bike past the apartment, leading to a girl allegedly being asked: ‘Is that the one who raped you?’
She allegedly replied ‘yeah, that’s the one’ and a group rushed downstairs to confront him.
It is believed the attack may have been a case of mistaken identity, with the police calling him an ‘innocent victim’.
The court also heard details about the series of messages sent in the moments after the alleged crime.
The young man allegedly claimed seeing the attack unfold made him laugh.
‘I stomped on him and gutted his head he got knocked out after I bottled him on the head,’ the youngster allegedly wrote in one text message.
‘I put the shattered bottle in his stomach and then jetted (a co-accused) slit his face like 15 times and stabbed him in the eye.’
It is believed the alleged attacker was then asked by his friend if he knew the man.
‘Nah mate. Ahahahaha he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,’ he allegedly replied.
‘He (a co-accused) stuck it in his eye. Put it in deeper and swivelled the knife around. So funny.’
Some other texts allegedly sent by a teenager are so graphic Daily Mail Australia has chosen not to publish them.
A magistrate called them the worst thing she has read in all her time working in law.
So far only two of those charged have been granted bail, with the rest remanded in custody until later this year.
In refusing to grant one of them bail on Tuesday, Magistrate Mary Ryan described the allegations as among the worst she had overseen.
‘Bail must be refused and with good reason, that I will detail so the community know why I am refusing bail for a 15-year-old with no previous criminal history,’ she said.
‘The facts before me and the actions taken by these young persons are abhorrent. It is reading that offends the normal notions of what a civil society is.
‘There is an indication of his thoughts in the form of text messages (he allegedly sent) that are so concerning, that it is just something I’ve not read as facts from an adult who has carried out an offence – let alone a young 15-year-old.
‘As an adult, as a mother, as a grandmother, it is very upsetting that this young person has allegedly behaved in this manner and reported back to his friends about his behaviour.’
The alleged messages, combined with CCTV and mobile phone footage, and the accounts of eyewitnesses, are set to form a major part of the prosecution case.
Some of the youngsters were arrested at their school this week.
Police prosecutor Peter Mort detailed allegations that as other youths fled, a 15-year-old remained behind stomping on the victim’s head while a 16-year-old allegedly plunged s knife into him.
‘We have evidence from a mobile phone, from a witness from a balcony nearby that we allege captures the incident,’ Mr Mort said.
‘We have direct evidence from a witness, being what they saw and heard. They were in the proximity and they heard the words: ”They’re going to stab him’.
‘We allege this young person is seen stomping on the head of the victim while he is on the ground. The victim was unable to protect himself.
‘We will allege a number of people from that group fled while he continued to stomp on the victim, and another co-accused joined.
‘A co-offender (allegedly) slashed the face of this male whilst he was on the ground.’