A visitor from Wagga Wagga was left unrecognisable due to the horrific injuries he suffered when he tried to intervene and stop a street fight that was sparked by a racial slur.
Aiden Edward Paff admitted assaulting his victim on 10 December 2022, punching him and then kicking him in the head when he was knocked to the ground.
When he was released from hospital with fractures to his eye socket and face as well as plates and screws in his head, he said his sister could barely look at him and his nieces cried when they saw him.
“That hurt my heart and soul,” he wrote in a statement read to the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday (8 August).
He asked his nephew what he wanted for Christmas that year and the boy replied, “All I want is for you to get better”.
“I haven’t been able to go out at night since, because I just don’t feel safe,” the victim wrote.
“I just want to be back to the same bloke I was before the assault.”
It was around 1 am when the victim’s friend started speaking to a group in Bible Lane in Civic, Canberra, before making a comment like, “Shut up you black c-ts”.
A fight started between the friend and the group so the victim, who had been standing nearby using his phone, intervened and tried to pull them apart in an attempt to stop the violence.
One of the brawlers, Paff, turned to confront the victim and, while the latter was backing away, punched him to the head which knocked him to the ground.
Paff then jumped back into the fight, but when the victim tried to get back up, his attacker returned and kicked him in the head before rejoining the fight again.
In a statement for the court, the victim’s sister wrote that she felt physically sick when she heard he had been attacked and he was unrecognisable when she first saw him.
“I’m just so grateful that my brother is alive and we found the offender so we can do justice for what was done to him,” she said.
Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson remarked that “people have died in these circumstances”.
“Mr Paff, this should never have happened, this should never have happened,” she told the 24-year-old.
“Lives have been harmed and you must think about that every day for the rest of your life.”
He responded, “Yes your honour, I will”.
Prosecutor Sam Bargwanna described the level of violence as quite severe and said the victim had done nothing wrong.
He also said Paff had been involved in a second assault 15 days after this one, for which he was sentenced for in the ACT Magistrates Court in June 2023.
Defence lawyer, Tim Sharman of Tim Sharman Solicitors, said his client felt guilty about the impact he had on someone’s life.
He said his client had been struggling with stressors in his life at the time of both of the assaults and he had been using cannabis and alcohol.
“He can’t take back what he did, he can acknowledge it and he has,” Mr Sharman said.
Paff, who pleaded guilty to a charge of recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm, will be sentenced on 15 September.