Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre McIvor: Ryder a fall guy in random violence

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A victim of violence, Jesse Ryder was left fighting for his life. Photo / Paul Taylor
A victim of violence, Jesse Ryder was left fighting for his life. Photo / Paul Taylor

On Thursday night, while Jesse Ryder lay in intensive care in Christchurch Hospital after a savage and apparently random beating that has left him fighting for his life, I drove home from work just after midnight.

It was quite the obstacle course. I have to drive from the city centre through Ponsonby to get to Grey Lynn - and Ponsonby is famous for its bars and nightclubs. All of which were closing at midnight because of Easter licensing laws.

Groups of young men staggered across the roads, clutching drinks and each other. Young lovelies with short skirts and long faces made their separate ways, alone, to taxis double- and triple-parked along the strip.

It wasn't an angry scene but it could have turned on a dime.

I remember when I was maitre d-ing in Courtenay Place in Wellington in the early-90s. The area was evolving into a night-time destination but there were still a few scraggy old strip joints, panel beaters' shops and dodgy takeaway-cafes around.

I was pouring a bottle of fine red wine into the glasses of a couple who were seated at a window table looking out on to the street when we all stared, aghast, as a young man staggered past the window, bleeding profusely, with a huge shard of glass in his back. He'd been pushed through the window of a nearby store and half the window had skewered him. He was stone-cold sober, on his way to a bus, and had been the victim of random violence.

In more recent times, I've met two young men who've been savagely assaulted. One was a young deck hand on a luxury yacht who was due to leave for the south of France to take up a contract. Three days before his plane left, he was set upon by three men while walking home. He suffered a fractured eye socket and broken jaw and couldn't take up the contract.

Another was a chef at my local cafe who was walking two blocks home from his work and was king-hit from behind by a stranger.

The full facts have yet to come out about the attack on Jesse but, my God, the media were quick to judge - apart from Bryan Waddle. His reports were a breath of fresh air.

Normally the perpetrators are considered the pricks, not the victims. But in this case we got detailed analyses of Jesse's battle with alcohol, his past misdemeanours, the possibility he may have provoked the attack, and many more rumours and scuttlebutt besides.

He was bashed - from behind - by more than one man. Which makes him yet another victim of an insidious nasty cancer of random violence that has infected society.

- Herald on Sunday

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