Dave Phillips remembers.
Dave Phillips remembers. Craig Warhurst

Attack hero: I had no choice

VICTIM Dave Phillips was reluctant to comment yesterday on the life sentence handed down to the 16-year-old who stabbed him in the back beneath Goldfields in Gympie in 2009, minutes after fatally wounding Gympie teen Jackson Bradey with the same bayonet.

Dave was hailed a hero after he and another bystander, Neil Wildman, wrestled the armed and agitated assailant to the ground.

The attacker this week pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court to one count of murder and one count of acts intending to maim, disfigure or disable.

"My only comment is that it's just so unfortunate (what happened) for everyone concerned," Dave said.

While the sentencing drew some impassioned comments on Facebook, Dave, who so easily could have lost his own life that day, was restrained.

"My anguish and frustration are equal on both accounts," he said. "Two lives have been ruined.

"The whole thing is just so regrettable. I just feel so sorry for the kids involved."

While Dave said the events of November 27, 2009, did not "haunt him in any way", he also said he had no choice but to do what he did or he would have been another victim.

"I am very lucky to be talking to you right now," he said.

"It just proves that as you go through life (or through an underground car park) you have to be vigilant."

And as to whether justice had been served: "I think about it a fair bit and I have reached no conclusion".

A witness to the brave actions of Dave and Neil was Gympie Times' journalist Arthur Gorrie.

"There are some things we all hope to do without in life and being a murder witness is one of them for me," Arthur said yesterday.

"I was walking along Monkland St towards Goldfields Plaza (on that day). When the two boys ran past me I thought they had both been up to no good and were escaping. I thought the long dark object in the second one's hands might have been a vandalised car aerial or something similar.

"I had no idea the first boy was running for his life from someone who had decided to kill him, at random, for the thrill of it. And the long dark object was a knife.

"The killer and I made eye contact as they ran past and he could easily have changed direction and killed me. It would have been over in less than a second and I wouldn't have even seen it coming.

"The incident left me in awe of the courage of Dave Phillips and Neil Wildman, who quickly and effectively controlled the situation, and two women who comforted the victim as he faded out, apparently oblivious to the danger they were in from the killer, who was still armed and struggling.

"Neil put himself well into harm's way, twisting the killer's head around almost gently and forcing him to slowly drop to the floor, relying entirely on Dave to maintain his grip on the killer and the knife.

"I don't know who the women were, but all four made me feel fortunate to live in a community where people care enough to act for others, without any apparent thought of their own safety."

Members of Jackson's family, including his parents, said yesterday they did not wish to comment on the sentencing.

Gympie Times

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