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February 23, 2004

Deaf man brutally beaten, twice

From: New Zealand Herald, New Zealand - Feb 23, 2004

When Guy Benfield was beaten up twice in one night outside his Rotorua home, his wife only recognised him from the shape of his body.

It was a brutal and unprovoked attack that has topped off a shocking 18 months for the couple.

When Mr Benfield looks on the bright side, he thinks at least he is lucky to be alive.

Born deaf, Mr Benfield was in a car accident 18 months ago which left him with head injuries. Six months later, he was hit by a digger at work, causing concussion and further damage to his head. Last year he and his wife, Delwyn Gainfort, were burgled five times in just a few months.

Today he is eating through a straw as he recovers from two serious beatings in one night just over a week ago which left him with a jaw broken in two places and 18 screws in his mouth.

Yet, communicating by sign language and writing messages, he said he had no choice but to think positively.

The attack happened in the early hours of Valentine's Day. Just after midnight, Mr Benfield went for a stroll outside the couple's Sunset Rd property. When he returned, he noticed someone crouching down in the driveway. He went to tap the man on the shoulder but was attacked and "bottled" over the head.

Semi conscious, he found himself across the road from his property where he was attacked again, beaten and knocked unconscious.

"There was blood all over him. I only recognised him because of the shape of his body," Mrs Gainfort said.

She feared for her husband's life because of the cochclear implant on the side of his head which helps him hear.

"If he had been hit directly on it, it would have killed him or caused serious damage."

Mr Benfield was taken to Waikato Hospital where he had surgery to his jaw. He is not able to open his mouth or eat solids for another six weeks.

Mrs Gainfort said she was trying to find ways to make her husband's menu more appetising and had even attempted to mash fish.

"But if he can't get it up the straw, he can't have it."

Detective Tania Blackbourn described the attack as "disgusting".

"We are obviously concerned that this is a totally unprovoked attack on a man who was minding his own business."

Police were forensically examining a smashed bottle that was found in the couple's driveway.

Ms Blackbourn said it was possible Mr Benfield was attacked by two different people. The man in the driveway is described as 1.7m tall and thin with bushy hair possibly in dreadlocks.

Meanwhile, the couple are hoping a new start will bring better luck and are moving out of their home.


©Copyright 2004, New Zealand Herald