Man sentenced to 20 years in attack on Australian visitor

Man sentenced to 20 years in attack on Australian visitor

URBANA — Clinton Fookes has no desire ever to return to Champaign after a vicious beating and robbery more than a year ago left him forever changed.

The Australian researcher in artificial intelligence was visiting colleagues at the Beckman Institute as part of a two-week United States visit in October 2011. As he left a downtown Champaign restaurant on the evening of Oct. 20, he was jumped by a group of young men who drove him to a secluded location, beating him as they went, and even stripping him of most of his clothing before dumping him alongside a road.

The attackers got Fookes' cell phone, his wallet with a small amount of cash, and his watch.

Fookes sustained brain damage, a broken nose, broken eye socket, broken vertebrae, frost-bitten toes, nine broken teeth and months of lost work and terrifying nightmares.

On Monday, Judge Tom Difanis sentenced Dorian Wills, 18, of the 1100 block of Northwood Drive South, Champaign, to 20 years in prison for aggravated kidnapping.

Wills pleaded guilty to that in return for a promise from Assistant State's Attorney Lindsey Clark that she wouldn't seek a higher sentence — he could have gotten 30 years — and the dismissal of a robbery charge.

Under truth-in-sentencing, Wills will have to serve at least 17 years.

Clark said she went with the negotiated plea because 20 years "was a number that the victim was comfortable with and it saved the expense of trial and having the victim come from Australia three times."

She called Wills a "monster" who planned the crime and was deserving of the 20 years.

Co-defendants Ralph Gray, 18, of the 1100 block of Northwood Drive South, and Anthony Davis, 18, of the 2400 block of North Neil Street, also pleaded guilty to kidnapping and are scheduled to be sentenced by Difanis Wednesday.

With virtually nothing to go on because Fookes remembered little of what happened and didn't even know where he was, Champaign police detective Robb Morris got to the trio by tracking Fookes' cell phone number. That led him to Davis, who implicated the others.

Fookes was not in court Monday but submitted a six-page statement to the judge, describing the terror he felt as he was hit with objects, kicked and punched repeatedly.

"They were laughing and jumping around and appeared to be having a good time," he said, describing how he tried to cover his head and face with his arms and hands.

"I believed I would not live through the night. ... I begged them to stop hurting me and I begged for my life. I also pleaded with them by telling them I am a father and I have young children. This only made them laugh harder and it seemed to spur them on even more with the attack continuing again afterwards. ... I have a memory of one of them saying how they were going to kill me," Fookes wrote.

Dumped in a field on North Mattis Avenue, north of the High School of St. Thomas More, Fookes awoke freezing. His shoes and most of his clothes had been taken.

"I decided that I will do whatever it takes to get to safety as I would not leave my family without their father and without their husband. I also decided that I was too young to die. All of this became the fuel I needed to crawl and stumble over long distances in rough terrain to reach temporary safety in a farm barn."

Unable to see clearly because of bleeding in his eye, Fookes made his way to a farm house but no one was home. He returned to the barn and wrapped himself in a tarp. At dawn on Oct. 21, he headed to the road where he estimated 100 cars went by, some slowing to stare at him.

"I was very grateful for the one lady who stopped to help me and who instantly knew the danger I was in, wrapped me up in her car and then called for the police and ambulance."

Fookes was hospitalized at Carle about a week, had several additional hospital visits at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and months of intensive treatment after his return to Australia about a month after the attack.

He said the medical costs, lost work income, and rehabilitation and counseling are currently upwards of $125,000 and continue to add up due to ongoing treatment.

"In hindsight I realize just how lucky I am to have survived this horrific and horrendous assault. It is not every day in your life when you are confronted with such evil and vile people; people who kidnapped me against my will and attacked me over and over again.

"These people did not do this just to steal my money. Unfortunately, they did this for fun as their laughter and the joy they experienced while beating me is forever etched into my memory," said Fookes.

Fookes said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and often awakes in the night kicking and punching so violently that his wife won't let their 2-year-old daughter sleep in their bed.

The attack left the researcher and lecturer who said he had a photographic memory unable to concentrate or process information as quickly as he previously could.

"Having received a brain injury from a vicious and unprovoked attack by some of the most evil and heinous individuals I could ever imagine, my life will never be the same," he said.

Wills' attorney, Jim Dedman of Urbana, called Fookes' statement "one of the most horrendous things I've ever read" and urged the judge to consider Wills' young age and the fact that Fookes was spared a trial by Wills' guilty plea.

Wills, who had three prior adjudications for battery as a juvenile, apologized to the victim, acknowledging that "we really scarred him."

Wills said he's been reading the Bible in jail the last 10 months. He said he wanted to go to school and provide for his daughter.

"There's not too much I've done right but I know I can do right," he said, bristling at the "monster" label.

"Monsters are people who don't want to change," said Wills.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
fortherecord wrote on December 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I hope the person that let him go three times before sleeps well at night.

billbtri5 wrote on December 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm

name him..


Joe American wrote on December 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Why is the name relevant?

Mark Taylor wrote on December 11, 2012 at 9:12 am

I know. That person who let him go those three times should have know that the FutureCrimes were coming as sure as the sunrise and executed him on the spot based on that alone.


Nickemry wrote on December 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I disagree Mr. Wills I think monster describes you and your friends perfectly and 20 years isn't nearly enough time for what you did to this innocent man. 

Joe American wrote on December 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I cannot express the sheer embarassment I feel for our city to now have a place the global map - not for it's hospitality and welcoming aspects - but for the few animals that act with pack mentality.

Mr. Fookes, the civilized 99.9% of our community wish you the absolute best for your future.

And Dedman, sometimes it's better to say nothing than.........that.

vcponsardin wrote on December 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm

The criminals are getting what they deserve--thank goodness.  It's the people in the 100 or so cars that passed Mr. Fookes by who are the sad ones--and are not getting what they deserve.  Unimaginable that there are so many in our community who are so useless and worthless as to not stop and help an injured man.  It really says a lot, unfortunately, about the true character of some people in this town.  Perhaps someday these 100 or so people will find a point to their pathetic, meaningless little lives--but I don't hold out much hope.

jdmac44 wrote on December 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm

  Not nearly enough time.

philip wrote on December 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I wonder sometimes why we don't have capital  punishment for other than murder cases any longer.  Prison time hardly seems like justice in a case like this.  Hang them as a deterrent to other foolish kids. 

EL YATIRI wrote on December 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm
Profile Picture

There are always savages and psychopaths amongst us.  I agree that Dorian Wills didn't get enough time.  He will strike again when he gets out, the talk about reading the bible just doesn't impress me.

What is more dismaying is the fact that 100 cars went by the beaten and naked victim in the freezing cold, with some slowing to stare.  

That one lady who stopped is an extraordinary human being.  I am disappointed that she wasn't named in the article.  She is the person who deserves to be the protagonist of the story, instead of the animal Wills who got so much undeserved print.

illinialum12 wrote on December 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm

While my heart goes out to Mr. Fookes and his family on account of the nightmare they've been through, I think it's really dumb for him to categorically reject ever coming back to Champaign because of it. This is a crime that could have happened anywhere. His loss.

rsp wrote on December 10, 2012 at 9:12 pm

The man has PTSD. For him to even think about coming here would trigger his symptoms. Why on earth would you want him to suffer more torment? So he can relive the entire experience in vivid detail? 

alabaster jones 71 wrote on December 11, 2012 at 1:12 am
Profile Picture

What rsp said.

And it's not like a guy from Australia was ever likely to come back here regardless.

annabellissimo wrote on December 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm

What an odd, insensitive thing to say.  Nothing about Mr. Fookes is "dumb".  It is quite intelligent to want to avoid something or someone  or someplace where you have experienced danger or where you were harmed and/or threatened or about which/whom you perceive a threat. You sound as if you are promoting tourism in the face of a situation that was monstrous.  I can think of two places instantly where I encountered danger but nothing like the terror Mr. Fookes experienced, and I never want to go to either of those places again, even though there may be plenty of nice people in each of them. To me, forevermore, those places are "danger zones".  An intelligent human mind LEARNS from its experiences and in the case of Mr. Fookes and Champaign-Urbana, what his mind has learned is that it is a danger zone. There are many things in recent years that make me feel ashamed to be an American and this incident is another one, even though I had nothing to do with it directly. Indirectly, all Americans are guilty for what our country has become.


By the way, yes, you are right that it "is a crime that could have happened anywhere", but the fact is, this kind of predatory, vicious violence is increasingly common in America, and it was not always so.


welive wrote on December 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm

the detective Robb Morris deseves a kudos for good police work and helping get this one of many violent people off the streets.Thank You Mr Morris


alabaster jones 71 wrote on December 11, 2012 at 1:12 am
Profile Picture

I really hope that Mr. Fookes was delirious and misestimated the number of cars that drove by, or that most of the people that drove by simply didn't notice him.  However, I doubt that.  The only valid excuse I can think of for not stopping to help this man was that some of the passersby had hourly wage jobs that would have fired them if they were late to work that morning.  If you worked for Jimmy John's, for example, stopping to help an injured man and being late to work as a result would probably get you fired.  Even then, the least they could have done was call the police and let them know that there was a man bleeding on the side of the road.

I'll bet many of them were scared that he was a crazy person who would try to rob, rape, and/or murder them if they pulled over to assist him.  I'm not saying that is a valid or reasonable excuse at all, but that is the kind of culture that we live in.  Our culture encourages us to be distrustful of all strangers and to avoid them at all times possible.  It's what kids are taught at a very early age, and it often stays with them throughout the rest of their lives.

rsp wrote on December 11, 2012 at 4:12 am

I'm guessing most didn't even see him, which is really sad. The others based on the studies of past incidents where there was someone in dire need and everyone thinks someone else will call so no one does. Plus people tell each other it's not their business. Society has lots of excuses for the shape it's in. 

glimmerman2310 wrote on December 11, 2012 at 10:12 am

its the dewey fisher road his count was probobly close to right as there are atleast that many people that commute to C-U from fisher each morning...

rsp wrote on December 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm

She is to be commended for stopping. That must have been very scary for her. I hope she is doing well. 

EL YATIRI wrote on December 18, 2012 at 5:12 am
Profile Picture

I have to agree with Alabaster.  Most of us are cowardly and selfish.  The woman who did stop is extraordinary.

areader wrote on December 11, 2012 at 10:12 am

What the SCUMBAG LOSERS did to Mr. Fookes was HORRIBLE!  The sentence passed down is NOT strong enough!  These lowlifes should be tossed in jail cells for as along as their live because they knowingly ruined the life of another human being!  What is wrong with our court system that "walking trash" human beings are not punished for types of crimes like the one reported in this article!

Reading articles like this make me SICK! 


alabaster jones 71 wrote on December 12, 2012 at 7:12 am
Profile Picture

Ah, like a dog whistle on seemingly every article about a prison sentence.  THIS SENTENCE IS NOT NEARLY LONG ENOUGH, THE COURT SYSTEM MAKES ME SICK, GIVE HIM 100 LIFE SENTENCES!!!!!!!  CAPS LOCK!!!!!!!!

As usual, you are ignoring or simply failing to comprehend the facts of the case.  Such as the fact that the victim himself was satisfied with the sentence because he didn't want to endure a trial, which would have traumatized him further by forcing him to repeatedly return to the town where he was almost beaten to death.  It also would have been expensive for him to travel all the way here from Australia, and to miss even more work in the process.  He has already suffered a lot of financial difficulty due to the attack.  

What was Mr. Fookes supposed to do?  Come back here and be traumatized all over again just so the prison sentence would be more to your liking?  Or was the prosecutor supposed to ignore Mr. Fookes' wishes and not make a plea...just to satisfy you?  Since your opinion is so important and all?

Would I like to see these goons in prison for longer than 20 years?  Yeah, I would.  If they had gone to trial, they probably could have gotten a longer sentence for this SOB.  However, that's not the way the victim wanted to do it.  End of story.  It's nobody's "fault" that the sentence isn't longer.

annabellissimo wrote on December 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm

An innocent man, a traveler to our country, our state and city, an educated man who studies artificial intelligence meets up with America Today in its ugly, vicious, vile expression and in ways that we see, hear and read about all over this "great land" day after day, an underbelly that lacks any intelligence of any kind, artificial or otherwise, and most certainly lacks any sense of human decency, morality, conscience, and all it knows is brutality and destruction sets its predatory eyes on him. Bodies, minds, lives, futures, families, neighborhoods, cities, schools, houses, morale of city residents, creativity and productivity, freedom of movement, freedom that derives from a feeling of security are all being destroyed, not by "outside terrorists" but by America's underclass and unless and until this is confronted head-on by all the powers that be at every level, it is only going to get worse and worse. And how much worse can it possibly get for those already preyed upon?  For that man and everybody he and his family and all the ripple-effect people he and they ever encounter and with whom they ever discuss this horrible, terrifying, monstrous ordeal and all those who read this in the news, this IS America and this IS the University of Illinois and this IS Champaign-Urbana and these ARE Americans. It is the lowest, most vile aspects of America that are defining us everywhere, inside and outside our boundaries. The woman who picked him up and helped him is a saint. All those who are jumping in to judge those who drove on by:  really, truly, honestly: how many of YOU would have stopped for someone who must have looked like he was in such a desperate state? Would you have seen someone needing your help or someone who might be a threat to YOU?  I don't know what he looked like, nor what her mindset was, but she is a saint, and all normal human beings should be grateful that such people exist; they stand in opposition to the monsters who left this man so broken.

America has very serious,ugly problems, whether it's in the pedophiles protected by powerful institutions in the form of the Catholic Church or Penn State, whether it's the depraved monsters who prey upon and use children, whether it's parasites stealing other people's identities and labor, whether it's  the "white collar" crime that has destroyed so many lives of people who worked all of their lives for savings and hopes stolen with the stroke of a computer key, whether it's the predators stalking America's inner cities preying on local residents like the parasites they are, whether it's the lazy and ignorant who destroy houses and neighborhoods out of stupidity, whether it's the drug-crazed or the alcohol-crazed, whether it's the ubiquitous ominous criminal-minded who lurk just waiting to prey upon others, whether it's the hate-filled and violent of any stripe, whether it's the lies we tell ourselves (or have foisted upon us) about the problems:  these seem to form the new definition of America. It's America gone wrong and this poor Australian man happened to encounter it in "middle America" so often called the "heartland".  It's a foul, diseased heart in a foul, diseased body. These violent, horrific crimes in America are no longer an aberration. Read any city paper in the country; they are common.  And with increasing regularity, read ANY paper in ANY town, village or crossroads, and these stories are common. What are we going to do about them? Just keep passing on by and hope some "saint" will take care of it?

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 11, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Maybe the passage of conceal and carry in Illinois will put a stop to some of the evil you describe. 

I think we tend to overlook America's past.  It was not as rosy as we tend to remember.  It still needs improvement though.  A Good Samaritan showed up, and helped the man.  He was a stranger in a strange land, or he never would have got into the van for a ride back to where he was staying.  If you were in Australia, would you accept a ride from a group of strangers?

rsp wrote on December 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm


He was staying at a hotel on North Lincoln Avenue in Urbana and had left Guido's, a downtown Champaign bar, to head back to his hotel. He was walking when he reported being picked up for four or five men who beat him at the site of the initial contact. Not being familiar with the area, Fookes was unable to give Morris specific locations of where things happened to him.

After the initial beating, the attackers threw Fookes into a van, which police later determined had been stolen by Davis, according to Clark.

I think there has been some confusion about the initial events with this case. The quote above is from the story covering his codefendent. Some of the stories don't make it as clear that he was beaten and then thrown in the van. They almost make it sound like he got in voluntarily, which doesn't seem to be the case. I know Fookes had trouble remembering things, but there should be some consistancy between stories with facts. 

Nickemry wrote on December 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Im confused the article said he was "jumped after leaving a downtown restaurant" it did not say he accepted a ride by a group of strangers?

phil3319 wrote on December 15, 2012 at 9:12 pm

How do we know that the people driving by didn't call 911 on their cell phones, maybe because it was dark out and they were scared. There have been cases of people faking needing help by the side of the road to hijack cars and/or rape defensless women. We shouldn't be reprimanding these people for being safe and not another victim left somewhere on the side of the road.

Chambanacitizen wrote on December 16, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Right Syd...just like concealed carry stopped the violence in Conneticut, right?  Where were all the big heros then?

TheChiefLives wrote on December 17, 2012 at 8:12 am

Obeying the law!  Guns are not allowed in schools.  Concealed carry had no contribution to this tragedy, pro or con.  Way to shift the blame though.