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  • Tamara Sheward

    TropicNow writer

    Email Tamara Sheward

    Croc-attack victim’s grandmother speaks out against “hateful” comments

    The grandmother of the teenager mauled after jumping into a croc-infested river has spoken of the heartbreak caused by “negative and hateful” social and mainstream media.

    In a broadside which has gone viral since being posted on Facebook last night, Julie de Paauw defended her grandson, Lee de Paauw, against  an onslaught of insults and public-arena bullying.

    In a now-notorious incident which has made headlines around the world, Lee, 18, jumped into the Johnston River in Innisfail early Sunday morning on a drunken dare.

    He was immediately attacked by a crocodile, suffering horrific injuries to his left arm.

    Ms de Paauw admitted the stunt – apparently aimed at impressing a British backpacker – was a “foolish act”, but blasted the barrage of vitriol and “false facts” directed at Lee in both online and mainstream media channels.

    “To all those people making those hateful comments, why don’t you think of the positive, I still have my first grandchild,” she said.

    “By rights I should be sitting on that wharf waiting for his body to be recovered.

    “Knowing that there are so many nasty horrible people saying such awful things is not doing my health any good.

    “Just remember all you folk out there, that there is no such thing as a perfect child (so called perfect children are generally better at hiding their behaviour), any more than there are any perfect parents.

    “You don’t have to be unintelligent to do stupid things.

     “He may sound full of bravado, but trust me, It is just for show.”         

    Ms de Paauw also took umbrage at those denigrating Lee for taking a cash payment – reportedly $7000 – for a high-ratings interview screened on Channel 9 last night.

    “This lad has been working full time, sometimes six days a week, since he was 14 years old.

    “If this young chap was lucky enough to get some payment for his story, then who has the right to begrudge him.

    “He will be unable to return to work for months… and he still has to pay rent, bills and buy food, etc.”

    Ms de Paauw’s post also paid tribute to Warren Hughes, the 35-year-old spearfisherman who was killed by a crocodile near Innisfail on Saturday.

    “A dreadful tragedy and I am feeling so much for you.

    “For some reason or another, we have been spared that pain.”