Kids gave victim strength

Jamie FreestoneGeraldton Guardian

The victim of a “horrendous, merciless” knife attack in Geraldton said the thought of his children gave him the will to survive.

Kris Battilana and his then girlfriend Veronique Thomas-Smith were asleep when her former husband, Lennie Smith, smashed through the bedroom window in November 2016.

“He had a kebab knife, which is about as big as a machete but serrated, and he had a carving knife in the other hand,” Mr Battilana said.

“He just started hitting me in the head and the neck and the shoulders and the face.”

Despite Ms Thomas-Smith taking out a restraining order against her ex-husband, Smith chased her from the Geraldton home before cutting off one of her breasts when she collapsed on a neighbour’s porch.

“Escaping the house didn’t occur to me because I knew he was chasing her through the house,” Mr Battilana said.

“I basically chased him while he was chasing her.”

Mr Battilana had all the tendons in his hand severed when he blocked a blow to his groin, and will live with lifelong scars to his face and body from the attack.

“For some reason, I opened my eyes after a couple of minutes like it was a hallucination of my children at the bedroom door, and I found the strength to crawl to my phone,” Mr Battilana said.

“They were what kept me going, my kids.”

Police arrested Smith at the scene, with Ms Thomas-Smith and Mr Battilana flown to Perth for emergency treatment of their critical injuries.

The mother later told police it was Mr Battilana’s heroic efforts that helped her escape.

In court on Friday, it was determined Smith had told the couple’s 13-year-old son he was going to kill Ms Thomas-Smith and that it was his fault and he would find out what it was like not to have a mother or a father.

Smith pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder and was sentenced to 19 years in jail.

The 39-year-old will have to serve at least 17 years in jail before he is eligible for parole.

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