Queensland

Missing Irish backpacker found safe and well

Declan Whales has been touring Australia. Photo: Instagram.

Declan Whales has been touring Australia. Photo: Instagram.

An online campaign to find a missing Irishman has proved successful after the backpacker was found safe and well on a Queensland station.

Friends of 30-year-old Declan Whales raised the alarm when they had not heard from him in over three weeks.

Whales, who last made contact while in Bundaberg on June 9, was discovered working on a cattle station 140 kilometres from the town of Bedourie in Central West Queensland.

The Irish Australian Support Association of Queensland’s Paddy Farrelly, who coordinated a public awareness campaign to find the missing man, said, “Police have laid eyes on him, he’s fit and safe and healthy.”

Farrelly said Whales had not informed friends that he would be uncontactable due to being out of signal range.

An online campaign by the IASAQ, which was informed of Whales’ disappearance by the Consulate General of Ireland in Sydney, was viewed by almost 300,000 people.

The initiative ultimately helped locate Whales, with a fellow backpacker calling in with information.

Declan Whales was discovered on a cattle station. Photo: Instagram.

Declan Whales was discovered on a cattle station. Photo: Instagram.

Farrelly said young Irish-Australians had been particularly engaged with the campaign, making every effort to help find the Irishman.

Whales’ new Australian friends had been desperate to know his whereabouts.

One Bundaberg woman wrote on Facebook: “absolutely heart broken. We used to work together. I pray to God that he is safe”.

Whales calls South East England home but has been in Australia for several months.

He visited Sydney, Byron Bay, Brisbane, Noosa and other pitstops before making his way to the cattle station to complete rural work to obtain a Working Holiday visa.


Jail for man who bashed two Irish backpackers

Two Irish backpackers were bashed by a man armed with a baseball bat.

Two Irish backpackers were bashed by a man armed with a baseball bat.

A Queensland man has been jailed for five years for the brutal bashing of two Irish backpackers who have been left with lifetime health issues.

Ashley John Moss pleased not guilty to grievous bodily harm and assault occasioning bodily harm but a jury in Cairns District Court found him guilty on Friday, March 15.

Moss hit Irish backpackers Owen Fogarty and Daniel McDermott in the head with a metal baseball bat after they got into an argument in front of his Mossman home in 2017.

The group of backpackers went to confront the father of three after he assaulted one of their friends earlier in the night, and the argument escalated.

Judge Dean Morzone told the court Moss' response was "grossly disproportionate, excessive and unreasonable", according to the ABC report.

"There was antagonistic behaviour between those in your yard and the tourists in response to the earlier assault and things became heated," he said.

"None [of the tourists] entered your yard and you could have retreated inside instead you took the time to collect a metal bat.”

After receiving emergency medical treatment in Australia, both Mr Fogarty and Mr McDermott returned to Ireland.

Mr McDermott lost hearing in his right ear and suffered tinnitus and seizures as a result of the bashing.

He was also on the wait list for a cochlear implant.

"His long-term prognosis is unclear," Judge Morzone said.

"He couldn't work for 10 weeks and still has a scar on his head. He also gets nervous in large groups and says he gets flashbacks to that night."

Moss broke down as he was sentenced.

"Your sister describes you as protective, kind and caring," Judge Morzone noted.

"Your otherwise good character is marred by a criminal history impacted by drugs and alcohol."

Moss was sentenced to five years in prison and will be eligible for parole on September 16, 2021.