The Toowoomba photography community is mourning the loss of Robert Brown, a keen enthusiast who has tragically passed away on February 13 after being brutally attacked while waiting for a taxi.
Brown, a 75-year-old photographer, was a cherished member of the Toowoomba Photographic Society camera club.
‘He was a very softly spoken sort of man, you know, and a genuine smile for everyone,’ Tryg Helander, a friend and vice president of the Photographic Society of Queensland, told the Brisbane Times. ‘He used to come and sit down and hold my hand and tell me about his photography. We’ve lost a good one. A real gentleman of the world, who would just give and give and give.’
Helander describes Brown loved street photography with his style reminiscent of Max Dupain, and would regularly volunteer to shoot for local charities.
‘He’d be the happy old guy that would just be walking around the streets smiling at you,’ Helander recalled. ‘He always had a smile. It wasn’t about notoriety for him … he took photos because he wanted to give something back to the community. And that makes him 10 times better than any other photographer. He was loved and respected. People would always speak about Robert all the time. Now people are learning he truly was something treasured.’
Brown would photograph Toowoomba’s streets and people every day, with his regular haunt the Grand Central shopping centre. It was near here on where Queensland Police state Brown was ‘minding his own business’ on February 6 when four teenagers allegedly assaulted him, and he was rushed to hospital with critical neck, spine and head injuries.
The four teens, who allegedly stole Brown’s backpack, attempted to escape in a stolen vehicle but were later intercepted by police. They were initially charged with grievous bodily harm, although Police now expect top upgrade the charges following a post-mortem report.
Helander said Toowoomba residents are fed up with youth crime, as Queensland Police struggles to deal with constant break-ins, attacks and recidivist offending.
‘Our judges and magistrates are hamstrung by laws that just send these people straight out onto the streets because the government counts these 17-year-old mere men as youth? It’s going to be pitchforks in the street if the government doesn’t do something.’