Belfast Telegraph

Man (31) in court over hammer attack on Irish backpackers

By Breda Heffernan and Mark Hilliard

A man has appeared before a court in Australia charged with assaulting two Irish backpackers in a hammer attack which left them fighting for their lives.

The two men, David Greene and David Byas, both from Dublin, remain in a serious condition at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.

It is understood that both men -- one aged in his late 20s, the other 30 -- were set upon with a hammer.

Yesterday, Luke James Wentholt (31) was charged with a number of offences relating to the incident.

According to reports, he was arrested after showing up at the same hospital with injuries.

He faces two counts of intentionally causing serious injury, two charges of recklessly causing serious injury and other assault-related offences.

He appeared before Melbourne Magistrates where he was remanded in custody to appear before the court again on October 8.

The two backpackers were staying at a boarding house in the St Kilda seaside suburb of Melbourne when the attack happened shortly after 1am on Sunday.

A police spokeswoman said both men suffered "life-threatening head injuries" during the incident on Lynedoch Avenue.

It is understood that a hammer was used in the assault which left blood on the street outside. Following the incident, police blocked off the road and warned neighbours there was an attacker on the loose. Rooms in the house are rented out on a short-term basis and it is understood that it has largely transient tenants living there.

This kind of accommodation is common in Australia where short-term living arrangements are often made for backbackers who stay in cities to work for a short time before moving on.

The men's families were informed of the attack and yesterday flew to Melbourne to be by their loved ones' bedsides.

The Irish Embassy in Canberra is providing consular assistance and has organised accommodation for the men's parents when they arrive.

The victims, who were both working in the city, have not been formally identified.

It is understood that while the two men had not initially been travelling together, they knew each other, having grown up close to each other in south Dublin.

Belfast Telegraph

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