The family of a 20-year-old man found critically injured on a Karratha roadside have pleaded for information about what happened to him, as they revealed he was unlikely to fully recover.
A passing motorist found Benjamin Gabriel unconscious and with serious head and upper body injuries on a verge about 7am on Saturday, March 2 – about 20m from where he had left a local nightclub Evolution Lounge Bar, about four hours earlier.
His step-father Tony Bell, who has been at the 20-year-old’s bedside at Royal Perth Hospital, said his son lived less than 200m from the nightclub but did not make it home and appealed for public help to solve the mystery of what had happened to his step-son that morning.
“Ben’s only a 20-year-old young man, he had a long life in front of him and it’s never going to be the same again, not for Ben, not for my family, not for his friends,” he said.
“Please speak up, don’t be afraid, come forward and let the police know what’s happened.”
It is the second tragedy for the family this year, with Mr Bell saying his family was still reeling from the death of his wife Cathy - Mr Gabriel’s mother – of cancer just a month earlier.
Mr Gabriel had been out with one of his brothers, Andrew, that night but Mr Bell had picked him up about 1.30am and Mr Gabriel had stayed out alone.
He had left the nightclub about 3am and was found several hours later on the verge of the Warambie Road, next to a carpark about 20m from the club.
“We’re not exactly sure how it happened but it is obvious that he’d been dragged from the side of the road to… (the) position where he was,” Mr Bell said.
"He had grazes up his side and face. His face was swollen, his eye was swollen, around his ears was bruised and swollen.
“He’s only five foot nine.”
Mr Bell said it looked to him as though the 20-year-old had been bashed but they just wanted to know exactly what had happened.
“We’re just hoping that somebody can give us some sort of information … even if it’s the smallest thing,” he said.
“You might have seen somebody, seen something… (or) somebody said something about it.”
Mr Bell said his step-son was now breathing on his own but doctors had warned them his chances of recovery were not high.
“The chances of Ben ever being Ben again … not good,” he said, fighting back tears.
The 20-year-old had been living in Karratha for about 16 months after moving from NSW with his high-school sweetheart Abbey.
They had both started working for Toll Energy, where Mr Bell also worked.
He was loving living in Karratha and was hoping to get an apprenticeship, Mr Bell said.
“He’s a great kid; he’s always been into snakes and fishing, loves the wildlife,” he said.
“Ever since he was a little fella, he was bringing snakes and lizards home.”
Mr Bell said his bosses, colleagues, Mr Gabriel’s friends and the entire community of Karratha had been a great support since the incident.
They have already raised about $15,000 to help the family.
Karratha Det-Sen. Sgt. Adrian Richards said detectives wanted to speak to anyone who was in the vicinity of Warambie Road and Evolution Lounge Bar between 3am and 6.30am.
He said police had identified most people in CCTV images captured outside the Evolution Lounge Bar but were still trying to track down all those people and urged anyone at the club that night to call police.
“That’s not to say they were involved in anything, but we need to speak to everyone that was there until closing that left the club at closing,” Det-Sen. Sgt Richards said.
He said Karratha detectives were still trying to determine how Mr Gabriel was injured.Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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