A witness has described ‘terrifying’ scenes following a New Year’s Day stabbing, saying cars were set alight, homes ransacked and people bashed.
A witness has described ‘terrifying’ scenes following a New Year’s Day stabbing, saying cars were set alight, homes ransacked and people bashed.

'Crazed mob out for blood and revenge’ after man killed

EYEWITNESSES have told how an angry mob of up to 200 screamed "kill them" as they firebombed homes and cars in a wild riot over a deadly New Year's Day stabbing in Aurukun.

Rival groups armed with spearguns, knives, bows and arrows, metal bars and bricks torched six houses in the drunken six-hour rampage.

Locals stormed the police station, hospital and airport as they ransacked homes, bashed innocent victims, and set vehicles and bedding alight on the streets.

"It was absolutely out-of-control, a crazed drunken mob out for blood and revenge,'' one eyewitness told The Courier-Mail.

"They were hunting two boys over a stabbing and went house to house screaming "kill them".

"It was terrifying."

The police station was one property targeted in the Aurukun rampage. File photo
The police station was one property targeted in the Aurukun rampage. File photo

Far North Police Superintendent Geoff Sheldon is appealing for calm as riot squad officers flown from Cairns patrol the township, where tensions are still high.

"Police have taken into custody and charged two teenagers with murder. Their families and associates should not have to live in fear of reprisals,'' he said.

"We understand that the sudden and tragic death of a loved one causes immense grief and at times anger.

"The level of threats and property destruction that we saw yesterday and overnight in Aurukun is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

Some families have evacuated the town for safety and the police station and hospital are in lockdown.

Smoke still rises from several destroyed houses and burnt-out vehicles.

One Wik leader said the fatal stabbing of a 37-year-old man, who cannot be named under tribal custom, was allegedly over a "slight" between two different family groups.

But sly-grogging in the dry community was to blame for the binge-drinking that escalated into a full-blown riot that held the entire town hostage.

Contraband rum seized coming into Aurukun over the holidays. Picture: Supplied
Contraband rum seized coming into Aurukun over the holidays. Picture: Supplied

"I don't want people to say 'f---en drunk blackfellas', or not 'f---en Aurukun again'.

"We all work hard to make Aurukun a better place.

"They need to understand sly-groggers are to blame, they poured alcohol onto the powder keg and the township exploded."

It had been a peaceful start to 2020 with hundreds of young children showering each other with coloured paint and flour, happy families sharing freshly caught barramundi, and dancing and singing in the streets of the 1500-strong Cape York aboriginal township.

But, late in the day, it turned into fist fights, pelted rocks, and a death in a crazed grog-fuelled clash between rival clans after a sly grog run selling bottles of rum for $250 spilt over into deadly violence.

It is understood the stabbing victim had gone to a house to confront another man over a fistfight he'd lost several weeks earlier.

"It started with a mob of about 40 who stormed a home with knives, metal bars, pig hunting bow and arrows,'' a witness said.

"People and houses got pelted with bricks, rocks and broken bits of besser block.

"But then one man got stabbed in the stomach and died, and the mob very quickly tripled in size."

Detectives charged a 17-year-old boy and an 18-year-old man with murder with the man due to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court today.


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