Irish luck runs out: Assaulted, arrested

AN Albury resident who went to the police to report an assault is today locked up in the Villawood Detention Centre after being found to be an illegal immigrant.

The Irishman, 35, was involved a violent incident on Dean Street in the early hours of Thursday morning that saw him hospitalised with serious facial injuries.

Albury police are investigating claims a stranger king-hit him from behind, but witnesses say a verbal slanging match between two groups near Sweethearts Pizza escalated into a brawl.

The injured man, a former employee of Paddy’s Bar, went to Albury police station to make a statement on Saturday after being released from hospital but soon found himself in police custody.

Sgt Caroline Epstein said she believed the man had a two-year visa, but had been living in the country illegally since 2008.

She said the man’s girlfriend visited him at the station before he was taken to Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney in the early hours of yesterday.

Last night a spokeswoman from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said unless the man had outstanding issues with the department he would be deported to his home country as soon as possible.

Albury detectives are investigating claims the man was struck by an unknown offender on Dean Street about 2am or 3am on Thursday while walking back to his home in central Albury.

He was allegedly discovered “passed out” by his girlfriend at the intersection of David and Dean streets and taken to hospital with a triple-fracture to his left cheek bone and a fractured nose and eye socket.

It’s the second time in three weeks someone has been king-hit in the area, with an attack that left a Lavington father permanently blinded in one eye still unsolved.

While police said a motive to the latest incident was unclear, witnesses including Sweethearts Pizza owner Daryl Betteridge said there had been a loud fight between two groups near the late-night eatery.

Mr Betteridge said at first the dispute between about 15 people aged in their 20s and 30s was just verbal, but when they walked down the main street towards David Street punches were thrown.

Two women also got into a scuffle.

“One of them said something to another — that sort of ‘what are you looking at’ talk ... I don’t think it’s anything radical,” he said.

Mr Betteridge didn’t know the victim, a regular customer at his store, was involved in the fight until he saw him later.

The man told him about his injuries, saying he couldn’t remember much about what had happened.

Sgt Epstein said if the man was sent back to Ireland it would make a potential prosecution more difficult, but that’s an issue police will deal with when they come to it.

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