The shattered family of a grandfather who was beaten to a pulp and left brain-dead after a brutal attack on Christmas Day are preparing to turn off his life support.
Anthony Clark, 50, was left brain dead after he was repeatedly stomped on and hit with baseball bats outside his home at Moorolbark in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs on Wednesday night.
Two days later, radio station 3AW aired an interview with Mr Clark’s brother-in-law, who described the alleged attackers as ‘African guys’.
3AW broadcaster and Seven News journalist Nick McCallum took to Twitter on Saturday night to say reports blaming African gangs for the attack were incorrect.
He followed up with an on-air apology on Sunday morning.
Anthony Clark with baby granddaughter Aaliyah on Christmas Day before the alleged attack. His family are preparing to turn off his life support
‘On Drive 3AW we interviewed Mark, brother in law of the Mooroolbark assault victim. He claimed the attackers were ‘African guys’, Mr McCallum tweeted.
‘He was told that by his sister, also an attack victim. From later reporting it is clear that was wrong. We apologise to the African community.’
Mr McCallum’s tweet sparked community outage.
‘Points for the apology but how about some fact checking before you go to air,’ one person wrote.
Another added: ‘Given the history of demonisation of African communities in Melbourne and the association with the word ‘gang’, you didn’t pause to think ‘maybe we can try and verify further before reporting’?’
The interview was still on 3AW’s website at the time of the broadcaster’s tweet but has since been deleted while the online story has been edited to remove references to African gangs being responsible for the alleged attack.
The station itself is yet to issue a public apology.
Several lawyers also commented on Mr McCallum’s tweet to express their anger.
3AW broadcaster Nick McCallum took to Twitter to say those reports blaming African gangs for the alleged attack were incorrect. He followed up with an on-air apology the next morning
Mr Clark’s daughter Jessikah said the family were devastated over the alleged attack
‘Sadly this is too late’ for African communities,’ Melbourne lawyer Nyadol Nyuon tweeted.
‘Also misidentification is not rare. There has been reports of people seeing Africans’ where none were there, that is partly because of the media role in emphasising the race of certain groups more than others.’
Fellow lawyer Maker Mayek described the situation as ‘f****d up.’
‘I’ve been basically sitting here making calls to community leaders how to react to a fallout. My heart racing pondering the consequences, he wrote.
‘My heart racing pondering the consequences.’
In his reply to Mr Mayek, the radio presenter said he was ‘mortified’ over what happened.
There was some support for Mr McCallum.
‘Shouldn’t the sister and brother-in-law be the ones to apologise (after a suitable period of time, of course)? After all, it was the brother-in-law who said they were African, not Nick McCallum. McCallum can hardly control what someone else alleges,’ one person tweeted.
Mr Clark underwent surgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital on Sunday afternoon to harvest his organs for donation as his family prepare to say their farewells.
Mr Clark had nine children and six grandchildren, including an 11-week-old girl Aaliyah, whom he was pictured napping with in a heartwarming photo taken just hours before the alleged attack.
It’s understood the alleged attack was over fireworks being let off, causing a dog to bark and the owners to get angry.
Mr Clark’s family claimed youths with weapons, including bats and metal bars, were involved in the alleged attack.
Ms Clark also claimed there were about ’15 men’ that set up on them she and her mother were hit.
His wife was also knocked out in their driveway and Mr Clark’s stepdaughter Jessikah Clark said he was ‘pretty much gone’.
‘They were yelling because a firework went off and their dog was barking,’ she told Seven News.
‘They had bats…they smashed my car and they threw mum around like a rag doll.’
The alleged attack happened outside Mr Clark’s Moorolbark home on Christmas Day
Ms Clark said her daughter has now ‘lost everything’ and wants her grandfather to come home ‘but he’s never going to come home’.
‘We have lost the best man in our whole lives,’ she told the Herald Sun.
‘No-one should have to die on Christmas Day just for looking after his wife and kids.’
The man’s family was scheduled to arrive from Ireland and Canada on Sunday after which Mr Clark’s life support will be switched off.
His wife and 25-year-old stepdaughter were also allegedly attacked, his brother-in-law Mark told 3AW.
‘He’s a gentle giant, and he was brutally, and I mean, savagely, attacked,’ he said.
Mark said he believed his brother-in-law was trying to shield his baby during the brutal attack.
‘They knocked my sister out, and had my niece – from what I understand – by the hair,’ he told 3AW.
Mr Clarke was repeatedly bashed in the head and was taken to hospital in a critical condition and placed in intensive care.
The family said there was no hope of recovery and his life-support will be turned off.
His wife suffered minor injuries and has been by Mr Clark’s side at the hospital ever since.
Anthony Clark (pictured) was allegedly ‘thrown around like a rag doll’, stomped on and hit with bats in the street outside his home at Moorolbark in Melbourne
An 18-year-old man was arrested but was later released.
‘The exact circumstances surrounding the incident are yet to be established and an investigation is ongoing,’ police said.
According to The Age four members of Mr Clark’s family have been charged with affray after another dispute on Friday.
They are to appear at Ringwood Magistrates Court on May 25 after receiving bail.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.