‘She nearly cut my head in half’
WARNING: Graphic images
The man whose head was almost cut in half by axe attacker Evie Amati has broken his silence about his near death and his fury at her light prison sentence.
Ben Rimmer has revealed how Amati slammed the axe into his face and in an exclusive interview told news.com.au, "If I hadn't turn my head at the last minute she would have cut my head in half."
Mr Rimmer has released disturbing never-before-published photographs of him after the attack, and details of how his face is now held together with metal plates he can touch through his skin.
He is doing so in an effort to get Amati's light prison sentence increased on appeal.
Ben has revealed his disgust at the light sentence Amati got for sinister attacks attempting to murder him and two others.
"She went there to kill. It's only pure luck that I'm alive and she's not remorseful. She's intelligent … calculating," he said.
"She'll do her time easily and get paroled in mid-2021. It's played out perfectly for her, perhaps better than she expected."
Mr Rimmer spoke exclusively for the first time as he launched a petition on change.org to have Amati's sentence appealed and kept in prison for at least 10 years.
News.com.au has learned that Amati, who has been held in three different women's prisons since her arrest two years ago, has used her intelligence and skills as former union organiser Karl Amati to push other female inmates around in the system.
Ben Rimmer believes Amati, who news.com.au reported was an arrogant and lazy union staffer with a huge sense of entitlement when working as an organiser for the CPSU, will walk out of prison scot-free in mid-2021 and won't be reformed.
Ben, meanwhile, will spend the rest of his life with four titanium plates in his face, including an orbital plate which moves and which he can feel every time he touches it.
This is the plate put in on the spot where if he hadn't turned his face slightly just before the blow, Amati would have struck him a few millimetres closer to his brain removing his eye and striking him in the brain, killing him.
On the night a drugged-up Amati took the 2kg axe she had bought two months earlier, Ben Rimmer was on his way home when he made the fateful decision to stop at the Enmore 7-Eleven to buy a pie at 2.20am on Saturday, January 7, 2017.
The then 32-year-old senior project co-ordinator was running late after drinking beer out with his mates. His wife was three months pregnant.
Unknown to Mr Rimmer, his life was about to change forever at the hands of Amati who just one hour earlier at 1.13am posted on social media, "One day I am going to kill a lot of people".
"It was the end of the holidays. (My wife) Melissa was annoyed I was late," Mr Rimmer told news.com.au.
He was getting a pie from the shop fridge, when Amati strolled into the shop carrying the long-handled axe casually in her left hand.
Amati did a lap of the shop, passing Mr Rimmer who then queued at the till behind Enmore shop owner Sharon Hacker, who was buying milk,
Amati was on "love drug" MDA, antidepressants, transgender hormones, cannabis and vodka and was consumed by resentment after storming out of a failed Tinder date with a woman.
She had just changed her Facebook status to: "Humans are only able to destroy, to hate, so that is what I shall do" and listened to the dark-themed song, Flatline by US metal band Periphery.
Amati had also just sent a Facebook message to one of the women she was out with on the Tinder date, writing: "Most people deserve to die, I hate people".
As the CCTV inside the Enmore 7-Eleven shows, Amati entered the store and did a lap of the aisles before approaching Mr Rimmer at the cash register.
While he cannot remember all of the encounter because of the catastrophic head injuries he received, Mr Rimmer knows at first he thought Amati's axe was a fancy dress prop.
"It didn't really register. I'd lived in the Newtown area for years, you see all sorts of people and you don't think much of it," he said.
But Amati came up close to Mr Rimmer and began talking to him. He touched the axe and then turned away.
He now knows by watching the CCTV footage of the encounter that he had a sudden bad feeling about Amati.
"My expression changes to kind of 'here we go'. I turned away to pay because Sharon had moved off," Mr Rimmer told news.com.au.
"I remember being struck. But I turned at the last minute, otherwise she would have chopped through my head straight through the front of my face.
"I think I must have seen it coming."
Doctors later estimated it Mr Rimmer hadn't turned, the brain injury caused by Amati would have killed him.
"Her aim was to kill people," he told news.com.au. "It was pure luck no-one was killed."
Mr Rimmer wasn't immediately aware of what had happened other than "it was like a king hit". "It didn't register straight away, it took about 30 seconds," he said.
"I fell to the ground. I was prone, bleeding profusely."
Starting to panic that he might bleed out, so fast and flowing was the blood from his face, Mr Rimmer took off his shirt and said, "I tied it around my head trying to stem it."
At the time, he was not aware that Amati had also struck Sharon Hacker with her axe in the head. As Ms Hacker lay helpless on the ground, Amati brought down a second vicious blow which would certainly have killed her but narrowly missed.
Bleeding on the ground and screaming in panic as the pain kicked in, Mr Rimmer yelled at the 7-Eleven proprietor to lock the doors of the shop, for fear of Amati returning to finish them off.
He began vomiting blood because the wounds and fractures in his face inflicted by Amati included a gaping hole in his nose, which sent blood pouring down his throat.
Police and paramedics arrived and Mr Rimmer was told not under any circumstances to swallow the blood. "It was almost impossible," he remembers.
Ms Hacker was placed in an ambulance on the scene and Mr Rimmer was taken to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital at Camperdown.
Amati was found cowering in a nearby yard and feigning unconsciousness before being taken to St Vincents Hospital.
In RPA Emergency, Mr Rimmer told police not to ring his wife and alarm her as she was pregnant.
"But Melissa actually called me in emergency and I answered," he said.
Doctors were "trying to calm me down, give me pain killers, but I was vomiting a lot of blood".
In the early afternoon of January 7, 2017, after specially calling in their head plastic surgeon, RPA doctors spent five to six hours operating on Mr Rimmer.
They inserted four titanium plates in his face, including a nasal plate and an orbital plate to hold up his left eye.
Evie Amati's trial would later hear from doctors how tiny the gap was that Amati avoided killing Mr Rimmer with her axe blow and completely removing his eye.
"I had a fractured skull on the side," he told news.com.au.
"All the nerves are gone in my eye and I can feel the orbital plate. I have twitches.
"They went up through my mouth to do all this."
Detective Senior Constable James Russell spoke with Mr Rimmer before he went into surgery.
While he lay on the operating table, Sen-Constable Russell went back to Kings Cross police station to interview Amati, who had been discharged in police custody from hospital.
Video of the police interview shows Amati, little more than 13 hours after trying to kill three people, coldly and calmly refusing to answer the detective's questions.
Speaking in a steady, low voice, Amati says, over and over, "I respectfully choose to exercise my right to remain silent".
The telling interview was played in court at Amati's trial after her barrister, Charles Waterstreet, failed to have it excluded from being viewed by the jury.
Ben was released from hospital after several days and spent two weeks waiting for the swelling to go down while he took pain killers and was mentally "jumpy".
As Amati's trial took 18 months to reach the NSW District Court, Mr Rimmer tried to forget about it. "I didn't think about it every day until the trial was up," he said.
On the trial's first day, Amati's lawyer tried to get a plea deal on lesser charges of grievous bodily harm rather than wound with intent to murder.
The NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) rejected the deal after asking Mr Rimmer what he thought.
"I believed it was attempted murder," he told news.com.au.
"Grievous bodily harm is a lot lesser charge but maybe she would have got a longer sentence for that if the judge hadn't heard her sob story in the trial."
Amati then tried to plead mental illness. Mr Waterstreet delivered a long and graphic description of Amati's physical trauma post transgender operation and her mental troubles.
They included fantasising about cutting people's heads off on the bus.
The jury didn't believe Mr Waterstreet and convicted Amati on attempted murder of Ben Rimmer, Sharon Hacker and a homeless man she attacked outside the 7-Eleven, Shayne Redwood.
Amati's sentencing was delayed more than once, District Court judge Mark Williams noted in court last year, by Mr Waterstreet not being ready with sentencing submissions on Amati's behalf.
Waiting for the day, Mr Rimmer knew that despite Amati facing a possible maximum prison sentence for attempted murder, "25 years was never going to happen".
Over the two years since the attack, he had become "more cautious, more alert" and aware that the metal in his face was a permanent reminder of the night he was nearly murdered.
"I work a lot of night shift as a project manager for a water mains and sewer mains (company)," he said. "I do go into (convenience) stores.
"I can feel the plates. I have to be careful. If I hit the orbital plate I could lose my eye."
Reflecting on Amati's trial, he felt she was more sorry for herself being in prison on attempted murder charges than remorseful about trying to kill people.
"It was poor me. The judge seemed to think she could be rehabilitated because she is doing so well in jail," Mr Rimmer said.
"It was all about moral culpability. She had glowing references."
Nevertheless he was shocked when Judge Williams handed down a nine year maximum and four-and-a-half-year minimum jail term and is almost certain Amati will walk free in early July 2021.
Amati claims to have "no memory" of the attacks, but because she admitted to them, she will be deemed to have addressed her offending behaviour.
The CCTV footage meant she could hardly deny she did it, although Mr Waterstreet said in his defence case she was physically but not mentally there and had in fact "lost her mind".
"It's all very convenient," Mr Rimmer said. "She was obviously planning to harm someone.
"She had a knife in her back pocket.
"I think the knife could have done more harm than the axe … could have finished us off.
"We haven't heard the last of her."
The NSW DPP has told news.com.au that the matter of seeking an appeal over the short sentence given to Evie Amati was "being considered".
To sign up to Ben's petition "Justice for Enmore 7-11 axe attack victims" click on this link to the page on change.org.
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