Just as Byron Beach Café’s head chef, Nathan Foord, should be ramping up for a busy summer season he has found himself in Tweed Hospital nursing serious injuries.
The 32-year-old Byron resident now has two plates in his jaw, serious concussion following three bleeds on the brain, and six teeth missing after he was the victim of a violent attack in Jonson Street, Byron Bay, last Friday night.
Nathan has no memory of the attack or of the man who delivered a single roundhouse kick to the face that caused him to fall unconscious onto the pavement.
Despite being with him throughout the attack, Nathan’s friend Nick’s attention was drawn at the moment it took place and police are having difficulty establishing the identity of the attackers.
Nathan’s sister Nikki and Beach Café owner Ben Kirkwood are imploring anyone who may have witnessed the incident to come forward.
Ben told Echonetdaily he had given his star performer his first Friday night off all year and Nathan decided to go out for a few drinks with a couple of mates.
One of his companions decided to call it a night and at about 2am Nathan and his flatmate Nick decided to continue to another venue.
The pair left the Great Northern, where they had been drinking for a couple of hours, and were headed to Cocomangas when they came across a group of youngsters hanging around in a gang outside the sushi shop on Jonson Street.
The males were all aged around 17–20. Nick reckons there were at least five of them.
‘They were being confrontational, trying to pick a fight,’ Nick told Echonetdaily.
‘I stood up to talk to a gang of them and tried and send them on their way. At that stage one of them said quite smartly, “what about your mate on the ground”.
‘I turned around immediately and saw Nathan lying there.
‘I didn’t get a view of what happened. I didn’t see [the attacker] run away either – everything happened so quickly.
‘As soon as I turned around I ran towards Nathan – I didn’t think about anything else at that stage. I was kneeling on the ground beside him so I guess they must’ve just run off.
‘The guy I was talking to had quite a slight build, probably about 5’9” and dark blond/brown hair – but he was obviously not the guy who did it.’
Security staff at Cocomangas saw little more.
Speaking to Echonetdaily through Cocomangas’ owner Gary Charles, one at least believes Nathan did try to take on his attacker.
‘There was some sort of altercation, which caused our staff to look up,’ Gary told Echonetdaily.
‘Two people squared off, basically, and one person has produced a roundhouse kick to the face and the injured person’s fallen to the ground and hit his head on the footpath and the other person’s run off down the alleyway between the Northern and the chemist.
‘Our staff ran over to assist [Nathan] and call the police but a bystander followed the guy down the alleyway and saw him change his shirt. He proceeded to the line-up at La La Land and he was refused entry.’
Gary says he wasn’t a schoolie but a bit older, early twenties, Caucasian and wearing a baseball cap.
Police have taken statements from Nick and Cocomangas security staff and Echonetdaily understands they have also been examining CCTV footage from venues including the Great Northern, Cocomangas and La La Land.
Repeated calls to investigating officers by Echonetdaily have gone unreturned.