Young thugs ruin holiday

Grey nomad Clarrie Heaton is just starting to get back on his feet again, three months after a group of cowardly young thugs ruined his holiday before it had started in a savage attack that put him in hospital for months.

The grandfather of eight, 68, admitted he thought he was a lot younger when he confronted the group of young thieves up to mischief inside a Belmont caravan park on December 14.

For his trouble, Mr Heaton suffered three breaks to his thigh bone and now has metal screws holding his femur together so he can start to get around on crutches.

Mr Heaton had leased out his Tingira Heights home and was about to begin a trip around Australia with partner Margaret Jensen when he walked out of the showers at the Belmont Pines Lakeside Holiday Park and saw the four youths and young girl up to no good.

He confronted them, telling them he would call the police, before one youth pulled a knife and a second king-hit the former Tomago Aluminium worker, knocking him to the ground.

‘‘When I hit the ground I thought ‘s---, I have had

it now,’’ Mr Heaton said yesterday. ‘‘All I wanted to do was frighten them.

‘‘But then they started to smart mouth and I think I thought I was 25 again - little bastards.’’

He hit the road and smashed his thigh bone and hip, and spent more than two months in John Hunter Hospital recovering.

‘‘When they lifted me into the ambulance they reckon everyone in Belmont heard me yelling,’’ he said.

Lake Macquarie detectives yesterday released computer likenesses of two of Mr Heaton’s attackers in the hope that someone could recognise them.

Young thieves had been seen digging through annexes and eskies throughout the park in the lead-up to the attack.

‘‘The police and community are appalled that such a cowardly act was committed against an elderly and defenceless member of the community,’’ Detective Senior Sergeant Chad Gillies said yesterday.

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