Supermarket assault leaves battler with more injuries
SIX months ago Andre Strooband was told he would never walk again after a fall at his Curra home shattered three vertebrae in his mid-back but now he has an even bigger battle.
After proving doctors wrong and walking - albeit with the aid of a stick - an unprovoked assault at Gympie Centro shopping centre last month has left him with even more injuries.
Mr Strooband's back is now held together with rods and screws after surgery at Royal Brisbane Hospital to repair his injuries received when he fell 4.5m from the deck of the home he is building with partner Sylvia Vandijk on to a retaining wall.
He remembers little about the fall and the 2.5-hour wait for an ambulance to arrive from Nambour.
He was then transported from Gympie to Nambour and to Brisbane where he awoke to be told by doctors he would never walk again.
But Mr Strooband does remember the assault that took place on Sunday, January 13, where he was punched in the head, pushed and landed in a refrigerated display case before landing on the floor, his glasses broken.
The cowardly assault by a much bigger man has left Mr Strooband with further injury to his back and down one leg which now feels dead, plus damage to his kidneys.
Police were notified of the assault and their investigations are ongoing with closed-circuit TV from Woolworths of those in the area of the assault being handed to police.
Mr Strooband has been traumatised by the attack and is terrified of leaving his home - he has only ventured out three times since.
He said the assault was completely unprovoked and was the result, he believes, of someone taking a dislike to his movements on the day.
"I'm in constant pain with my back. On the day I had stopped and was trying to relieve the intense pain by staying relatively still and just holding my back," he said.
"Someone said something about my staring at them and I turned and said 'excuse me' and this bloke came up and threatened to bash me.
"Next thing he punched me in the head; I swung my walking cane and hit him in the head with my walking cane and then he just laid into me.
"I landed fully in the fridge in the supermarket and then fell on to the floor on my back.
"I've now got damage high in my back and further down, a dead leg and he cut my lip open front and back as well as wrecking my glasses.
"It takes a brave person to punch out someone with a broken back and a walking stick."
Mr Strooband said staff from Woolworths had witnessed the attack, called the ambulance and got him to hospital. Reports had also been made to police by them.
Ms Vandijk said her partner had since been severely traumatised by events and as a result of his injuries was now unable to work or help complete their dream home they were constructing as owner-builders.
She said the assault had left Mr Strooband in need of constant care and attention and this was placing added strain on the family.
"We want help to find this guy; someone must know who he is," she said.
Mr Strooband described his assailant as well over 180cm in height, of very solid build , aged 25-35, with short sandy coloured hair and wearing football type shorts, a T-shirt and with a bucket hat on his head.
Gympie police Senior Sergeant Graeme Reeves said investigations were ongoing and police had spoken to a number of people.