Joseph Robert William Ward, 26, pleaded guilty in Maryborough District Court to grievous bodily harm.
Joseph Robert William Ward, 26, pleaded guilty in Maryborough District Court to grievous bodily harm. Annie Perets

Horror attack: Stab victim outraged at 'soft' sentence

A MAN who almost died after being stabbed twice by a stranger says his life is now a wreck, while his violent attacker will likely walk free from jail within months.

The 35-year-old, who asked to not be named as he says he fears for his life, told the NewsMail he and his partner had been forced to relocate to the "country" outside of Bundaberg after the attack in November last year.

Joseph Robert William Ward (pictured) was sentenced in the Maryborough District Court on Wednesday to four years and nine months in jail after pleading guilty to grievous bodily harm.

He has a parole release date in June next year.

 

Neck scar.
Neck scar. Mike Knott BUN300818SCAR1

His victim described the punishment as little more than a "slap on the wrist", while he was left to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.

He says he has turned to alcohol and struggles to leave home without a drink.

The victim said he had past demons of his own. He was charged with assaulting a police officer 10 years ago.

"I was convicted and did six months time for my first offence," the victim said.

"I did my time and I was rehabilitated, but I understand I was this man's fourth assault and he got such a short sentence.

"I'm telling you this because I think the law needs to change."

In his sentencing remarks, judge David Reid said Ward was lucky his victim had not died and he wasn't facing a charge of murder.

The court heard the pair had a heated exchange near the Old Sydney Hotel in Maryborough.

 

Stomach scar.
Stomach scar. Mike Knott BUN300818SCAR2

Ward attacked the man in broad daylight during the lunchtime rush, using a knife he had concealed in his pocket.

The violent altercation, which was captured on CCTV, left the victim in hospital for two weeks and requiring multiple surgeries. He spent time in a medically induced coma.

During the fight, Ward himself had been hit multiple times and, at one point, was momentarily knocked unconscious, the court heard.

It was after the pair had been broken apart by onlookers that Ward revealed the hidden knife and used it.

The blade pierced through the victim's abdomen and his liver. Ward walked away from the scene as paramedics arrived and worked to keep the man alive.

Ward, 26, was arrested about a month later while at a different Maryborough venue.

Ward's stabbing victim is calling for tougher sentencing.

"There is no justice," he said.

"I didn't know him, he approached me from behind and spoke crudely to a woman I was with - I told him to pull his head in.

"He didn't know me from a bar of soap, and still he slashed me and left me with a 7cm slice on my liver.

"He stabbed me in the neck and it was lucky it bounced off my collar bone or it would have hit my artery and I wouldn't be here."

The ordeal has left the victim with more than scars on his body - he has turned to alcohol to cope with everyday living.

"I have to drink in order to build the strength to step out in public," he said.

"I get startled easily now and am always on edge."

The victim said he suffered a lot of anxiety and depression and was only "now comfortable with using knives again at home again".

"He is a repeat offender and this is unjust - he just won't learn with the sentence that was given to him," he said.

His partner spoke to the NewsMail saying the past few months had taken a toll on everyone.

"He is on medication to help him sleep," she said.

As she read a report about Ward's sentence, she was upset the defence barrister Paul Rutledge told the court Ward's time in prison was tough because he was being targeted by other prisoners wanting revenge.

It also stated "the father of two was previously convicted for bashing an inmate over a cigarette".

The court heard about Ward's bleak upbringing and of difficulties in his personal life.

He left school in Year 7, had lost both of his parents and battled a drug problem.

Judge Reid said Ward's sad story both evoked sympathy and raised concerns he would reoffend.

He questioned why Ward would have a knife on him in the first place, suggesting the attack had been in some way "premeditated".

"You've got to leave weapons alone," Judge Reid said.

"He might have died, you could have been charged with murder."

The victim wants longer sentences and mandatory rehabilitation before offenders are released in to the community.