Ipswich teen golf bomb victim facing months in hospital
THE family of Michael Boggan, who sustained horrific injuries when a homemade bomb exploded in his hands at Leichhardt on Friday, say their lives have been ruined.
The 15-year-old Leichhardt boy has Asperger's syndrome and had been bullied in the neighbourhood for the past three years, his stepfather Michael Clifton told The QT.
"He's had trouble with a group of kids for a while," Mr Clifton said. "He gets bullied a lot - he's just an easy target."
Michael, who goes to Ipswich State High School on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, is expected to be in hospital for up to three months after losing nearly all his fingers in the backyard explosion in Dampier St on Friday afternoon.
"He has half a thumb on his right hand and maybe a pinkie left on both hands," a shaken Mr Clifton said.
"There's nothing left of his left hand. They're trying to save as much as they can."
Michael, who also has cuts to his chest and bone-deep shrapnel wounds to his legs, spoke of the incident for the first time on Saturday morning from Princess Alexandra Hospital where he remains in a stable condition.
He told his mother Rebecca Boggan, who spent all weekend at the hospital with him, what happened during the moments before the blast.
"They were sitting around a table and a teenager apparently came in with a golf ball he claimed he had found on the road," Ms Boggan said.
"The golf ball was filled with a white powder and ball bearings."
The mother-of-three said she believed it was made from household items which could have a "flash bomb effect".
"He (the teenager) told Michael to have a look at it. The ball had a hole in the top and when Michael turned it upside down to see what was in it, it exploded."
Mr Clifton said Michael knew the teenager who gave him the device.
"They picked on him a lot and he tried to fit in with him," he said.
"Michael would never do anything like this."
The 15-year-old underwent a blood transfusion on Saturday morning and was in emergency surgery until 3am. He will require skin grafts to his hands.
"We've been told he could be in hospital for three months," Mr Clifton said.
"The damage done to his hands is full on, it's just horrific."
He said they thought their son was at a friend's house across the road when the incident occurred, but Michael had gone to another house on Dampier St.
"The fella across the road, where we thought Michael was, came and knocked on the door and told us Michael had his hands blown off," Mr Clifton said.
"His mother was in hysterics. I went into the backyard (of the Dampier St property) to find out what happened and there were bits of his hands everywhere. It was awful. It was the worst thing I've ever seen.
"The whole family needs counselling after what we've seen and what Michael has to deal with after all this.
"He has lost both his hands - it's a life sentence."
Ms Boggan was admitted to Ipswich Hospital on Friday night after suffering an anxiety attack.
"We're praying for a miracle," she said.
"At 10 o'clock that morning (Friday), we were out shopping buying his mother a present for Mother's Day," Mr Clifton said.
"We were going to get up on Sunday morning and give her presents."
He said Michael had bought his mother a slow cooker, but it would be the last thing he would hold in his hands. He said the family wants to see justice.
"It has ruined all our lives all because of a stupid practical joke," Mr Clifton said.
Ipswich police Inspector Keith MacDonald said initial information suggested the explosion was not deliberate but investigations were continuing. Police are yet to lay charges.
Insp MacDonald said evidence, including clothing, had been seized from the scene for analysis and police would receive the results this week.
"We need to find what the compound is. They (bomb squad experts) couldn't get enough (fragments from the device) onsite to test - they have an idea what it might be but need to carry out more investigations," he said.
"Hopefully a valuable lesson is learned from this because the consequences can be catastrophic."
A second youth, found near the scene, was taken to Ipswich Hospital suffering glass fragment cuts, hearing damage and shock. Police found another two teenagers, aged 17 and 18, at Yamanto shopping centre on Friday evening. Both had injuries to their arms as a result of the explosion and were taken to the Princess Alexandra Hospital.