The loved ones of those who were killed in Darwin’s mass shooting one year ago today are still haunted by the horrific events of that day.
The loved ones of those who were killed in Darwin’s mass shooting one year ago today are still haunted by the horrific events of that day.

Darwin massacre: One year on, trauma of horror night remains

THE family and friends of those who were killed in Darwin's worst mass shooting last June 4 say they are still haunted by the horrific events of that day one year on.

Today is the one-year anniversary of the tragic deaths of Hassan Baydoun, 33, Nigel Hellings, 75, Michael Sisois, 57, and Rob Courtney, 52, who were killed during a violent 30-minute rampage on June 4, 2019.

Benjamin Glenn Hoffmann, 45, is before court and facing four murder charges.

Hoffman's lawyer told the Supreme Court in April that he intends to plead not guilty due to mental impairment.

Rob Courtney's best mate Johnny Reid, who was there when he was allegedly gunned down, said it was hard for him to find closure while waiting for the trial to get underway.

Johnny Reid saw the Darwin shooter enter the building before killing his mate Rob Courtney at close range. Picture: Che Chorley
Johnny Reid saw the Darwin shooter enter the building before killing his mate Rob Courtney at close range. Picture: Che Chorley

He said the events of June 4 were still really raw for him because he's still living at the same Jolly St property in Woolner where his friend died.

"My heart is still broken for my best mate Rob," he said.

"That day was so traumatic, I'll carry it with me forever.

"I see things that remind me of Rob at home all the time.

"I keep a few candles lit for him at night time."

 

 

 

The grisly details of the case against Hoffmann were laid bare as he was committed to stand trial in the Supreme Court in January.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Matt Nathan SC, told Darwin Local Court that Hoffmann swilled methamphetamine from a service station water bottle before going on the shooting rampage on June 4, 2019.

 

Broken glass at the front of the Palms Motel on June 4, 2019. Picture: Keri Megelus
Broken glass at the front of the Palms Motel on June 4, 2019. Picture: Keri Megelus

 

He alleges Hoffmann acquired a hunting knife, two boxes of ammunition and the pump-action shotgun and went to the Palms Motel at about 5.40pm armed with the shotgun looking for Alexandros Deligiannis who had previously stayed at a room there.

 

Hoffmann allegedly blasted his way into the room, where Mr Baydoun was now staying, and shot him four times, the court heard.

 

Next, Hoffmann allegedly drove to Nigel Hellings' Gardens Hill Cres unit where Mr Deligiannis had also previously stayed and shot Mr Hellings twice in the chest.

The court heard Hoffmann then went to the Buff Club where he had arranged to meet Mr Sisois in the carpark earlier that day. It was there prosecutors allege Hoffmann shot Mr Sisois in the head from about 2m away.

Hoffmann then went to Rob Courtney's Jolly St home where he allegedly started searching buildings and firing the shotgun, including into Mr Courtney's donga.

 

Ben Hoffmann is arrested by police on June 4, 2019. Picture: Keri Megelus
Ben Hoffmann is arrested by police on June 4, 2019. Picture: Keri Megelus

 

Mr Courtney managed to grab the gun and it fell to the ground in the struggle, after which Hoffmann allegedly stabbed him 28 times with the hunting knife, prosecutors allege.

Half an hour later heavily armed police arrested Hoffmann at the corner of McMinn and Daly streets.

 

He will return to court next month and his trial is expected to run for up to three months.

John Butler said he still felt sick to his stomach when he thought about the violent end his dear friend Nigel Hellings met last year.

"Like a lot of other people I was completely overwhelmed and stunned, no one would want to hurt this man, yet here I was reading about the heartless way in which his life was taken," he said.

"It was shockingly senseless, and it took a while to sink in that he'd gone and I would never speak or see him again."

Family members of the late Michael Sisois told the NT News late last year they were still processing their grief.

"Since we buried Michael our family has been completely torn up - we want justice," his sister-in-law Tammy Sisois said.

Hassan Baydoun's cousin Abdallah Salman also said the 33-year-old would be "infinitely" missed by their family, especially his mother.

 

WITNESSES STILL LOOKING FOR WAYS TO COPE

 

Leah Potter and Matt James were at the Palms Motel when the shooting started there. Picture: Che Chorley
Leah Potter and Matt James were at the Palms Motel when the shooting started there. Picture: Che Chorley

 

LAST year's Darwin shootings inflicted a lot of trauma on locals who witnessed the aftermath first hand, and some are still trying to heal emotionally.

Leah Potter and Matt James were at the Palms Motel on June 4, 2019 when a gunman was allegedly shooting through room doors and killed Darwin taxi driver Hassan Baydoun.

The pair said they were standing in the carpark when gunshots rang out and a man came screaming towards them with an injured 22-year-old woman in his arms.

"Her legs were completely covered in blood, it was surreal," Ms Potter said.

"She had been standing behind a motel door when it was shot through because there were bits of wood shards sticking out of her kneecaps. She was crying and we were trying to stop the bleeding with towels."

Ms Potter said she also saw where Mr Baydoun had been allegedly shot down and killed.

"The terrible violence of that shooting almost wrecked my life because it brought up some trauma from my past and drove me to drink," she said.

"I had a really dark few months but I pulled through with the help of music and art which is so therapeutic."

Mr James said he didn't think the Darwin community had fully healed from that horrific ordeal.

"We're all still gobsmacked about how it all took place," he said.

Originally published as Darwin shootings: One year on, trauma of horror night remains



Music teacher pockets $1350 cash ‘as collateral’

Premium Content Music teacher pockets $1350 cash ‘as collateral’

A Boonah woman caught with meth, pipes and piles of cash told police she had taken...

‘There’s a bomb in my bag’: Drugs blamed for bizarre threats

Premium Content ‘There’s a bomb in my bag’: Drugs blamed for bizarre threats

A drug-affected man forced the evacuation of a supermarket after making a bomb...

Young mum warned: ‘Don’t waste money on dope’

Premium Content Young mum warned: ‘Don’t waste money on dope’

An Ipswich woman was caught with marijuana following a raid by detectives