Bravery recognised

Bravery recognised

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Canning Vale residents Warren Polini and Malak Chiha along with Malak’s brother Youcef will be awarded bravery medals today after their actions in April 2013. Photograph — Matt Devlin.

A sleepy Canning Vale street was shaken to its core by a murder on the evening of April 29, 2013 and today the heroes of the incident will be recognised.

It was the night father of four Messaoud Chiha stabbed his wife Souad Benhammadi to death while their teen children and a neighbour tried desperately to stop the crazed attack.

Son Youcef, then 16, daughter Malak, then 18, and neighbour Warren Polini will be awarded bravery medals in the Australian Bravery Awards by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove today.

Youcef and Malak were at home when Chiha started stabbing Ms Benhammadi with a kitchen knife.

Youcef and Malak stepped in to prevent further injury to their mother and a scuffle broke out between them all.

Malak ran to Mr Polini’s house to call for help while Youcef was fighting off his father.
Mr Polini ran over and helped stop Chiha and his recollection of the incident is harrowing.

“I was at home having a bit of dinner with a mate of mine and my girlfriend,” he said.

“There was a bang on the front door and it was young Malak across the road running over yelling for help.

“By the time I’d gotten across, the mum was already bleeding profusely by the front door on her back and the old man was trying to kill Youcef.

“When I first went there obviously mum was lying on the ground, the daughter was kneeling beside her crying, then your brain starts going and assessing what’s going on.

“I saw (Chiha) with a big long glass vase, he started belting Youcef with that and the big ball in the end of it smashed across Youcef’s head and cut his cheek.

“Then the old man tried to stab him with it and Youcef deflected it and got him in the knee and opened his leg up.

“I tackled him, dragged him out the front disarmed him of that vase, chucked that in the pot plant out the front and told the kids to lock the front door.”

Mr Polini said while his friend and girlfriend were calling the ambulance Chiha broke free of him and escaped to the back of the house.

“Of course then he took off down the side and came back in the house with a lump of timber and started on Youcef again,” he said.

“I’ve banged on the front door yelling ‘let us in he’s come round the back’ and then they’ve opened the front door and let me in again.

“Meanwhile my mate’s come across and we’ve tackled him again.

“Then marched him through the house and held him down on the lounge out the back.”

Mr Polini said he didn’t believe he deserved the bravery medal. He said he was only accepting it to support Youcef, who he said was the real hero.

“We didn’t think twice, I don’t really think I deserve a medal or anything,” he said.

“After the fact, laying in bed my brain was going berserk, going ‘what have I done? I could’ve had my throat slashed’.

“Because I found out Youcef is also getting a medal I thought well if he’s getting one I’ll be there with him and support him on the day and will accept mine as well.”

Mr Polini said he had cried a few times after the incident but had talked it through with friends.

He still sees Malak and Youcef regularly.

In 2015 Chiha was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Sir Cosgrove thanked them for their bravery.

“They are a source of courage, support and inspiration, and we are a stronger, safer and more caring nation because of them,” he said.

To report an incident of family and domestic violence call the police on 000 in an emergency and 131 444 in a non emergency.

For support you can also call Crisis Care Helpline (08) 9223 1111 or free call 1800 199 008.