TWO Dublin men who are fighting for their lives in an Australian hospital were protecting a woman when they were attacked by a man with a hammer, it has emerged.
David Greene and David Byas, who both grew up close to each other in Cabinteely, remain in a critical condition at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.
The backpackers were staying at a boarding house in the St Kilda suburb of Melbourne when the attack happened shortly after 1am on Sunday.
A police spokeswoman said both men suffered "life-threatening head injuries" during the incident on Lynedoch Avenue in the seaside area.
Information is now emerging that Greene and Byas, one aged in his late 20s, the other 30, were protecting a woman at a party from an unwanted sexual advance when the attacker struck.
The vicious assault left blood in the street at the scene and locals were shocked at the level of violence.
Police blocked off the road and warned neighbours that there was an attacker on the loose.
David Greene's parents, Aidan and Catherine, and David Byas's parents, Fran and Philomena, flew out from Dublin on Sunday to be at their son's bedsides.
"This is the worst possible thing in the world that could have happened. Fran and Philomena are worried sick.
"They were heartbroken going out," said Pauline Taylor, an aunt of David Byas's mother.
"David is so inoffensive, such a lovely lad. I hope to God he comes through this," she added.
A friend of David Greene's said he had left Ireland in 2010 because there was no work here.
"Everyone is devastated by what happened. He is so popular and so kind," said the pal.
A man who presented himself at the same hospital where the men are being treated has appeared before a court charged with assault.
Luke James Wentholt (31) was charged with a number of offences relating to the incident.
He faces two counts of intentionally causing serious injury, two charges of reck- lessly causing serious injury and other assault-related offences.
He appeared before Melbourne Magistrates where he was remanded in custody to appear again on October 8.
It is understood that while Greene and Byas had not initially been travelling together, they knew each other, having grown up close to each other.
The Irish Embassy in Canberra is providing consular assistance and accommodation for their parents.