An 78-year-old Katherine man has been left cut, bruised and battered from a bashing which occurred in his home yesterday morning.
Bevan Gitsham was rushed to Katherine Hospital with large lacerations to his head and cuts and bruises covering his face and body.
Mr Gitsham, a keen gardener who often gives his home-grown produce to neighbours and friends for free, didn’t know his attacker, and has no idea why he was the target.
“I honestly think he would have killed him and ransacked the house if they didn’t know there was someone else in the house,” Mr Gitsham’s wife, Yvonne Gitsham said.
An early riser for most of his life, Mr Gitsham was awake before most of Katherine yesterday morning.
As is his routine, he walked outside to check the weather at about 5.30am before making a bowl of Weet-bix and coffee to watch the early morning news.
“I was sitting watching TV and next thing I knew he hit me, I didn’t know he was here ‘till he hit me,” Mr Gitsham said.
“I was on the floor and he gave me a few more bashings,” he said.
But his assailant appeared to be startled by all the commotion and left without stealing anything.
“There was blood everywhere, pouring out of my head.”
The couple have lived in and around Katherine for almost 50 years working on cattle stations, and for 20 of those years Mr and Ms Gitsham have lived in their home in Katherine East.
While there is no front fence or large dogs standing guard, their home was somewhere they felt relatively safe, up until about two years ago.
“They would come and try to get through the back fence to steal things or just be a nuisance,” Mr Gitsham said.
“But they never got into the house,” he said.
CCTV cameras were placed strategically around the home to capture the attempted break-ins.
Mr Gitsham said he did not lock the door after his early-morning ritual, he never had.
“He picked up a stick that was sitting outside which I was going to make into a walking stick eventually,” Mr Gitsham said.
“He just came in and bashed me and left.
“He wasn’t here for more than a minute and a half. But he put me on the ground in a pool of blood,” he said.
Ms Gitsham said she rushed out of the bedroom when the pet dog Lady started to bark at the intruder.
“I raced out and saw Bevan on the floor with head injuries and blood on the floor. I called the ambulance immediately,” Ms Gitsham said.
“I don’t know what I was thinking, you don’t when you are in these situations. I was focused on getting Bevan to the hospital,” she said.
Mr Gitsham needed almost 20 stitches in his head from the brutal bashings from the stick and an MRI, which confirmed there was no fracture or bruising to the brain.
Mr Gitsham said his attacker looked to be around 18-20 years of age.
“I saw his face. I can still see him with the stick in his hand – he wasn’t hitting me softly,” he said.
Back at home today, the couple are trying to recover from the horrific ordeal.
“Politicians need to work more closely with the community. It is a start. They can pass as many laws as they like but it is down to the individual,” Ms Gitsham said.
“Parents need to take more responsibility,” she said.
Katherine Police are today investigating the assault.
“Around 5.40am an unknown male allegedly unlawfully entered a residence in Katherine East and struck the male occupant with a blunt object before running from the residence,” a NT Police spokeswoman said.
“The alleged offender is described as a part Aboriginal male, late teens or early twenties, approximately six foot tall, athletic build with short dark hair, large ears and broad nose. He was wearing black shorts and a T-shirt with orange and yellow markings on the front and dark sleeves,” she said.
It is believed the man was last seen in the vicinity of Holtze Crescent and Fomin Drive, in Katherine East.
“Police are seeking assistance from anybody who was in Katherine East at the time and may have seen the male,” the NT Police spokeswoman said.
Anybody with information is requested to contact police on 131444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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