Home for Christmas - assault victim Paddy feels 'lucky to be alive'
A great-grandfather who was left fighting for his life following an unprovoked attack says he would not have seen another Christmas and new year without the intervention of medical staff and the unfailing support of his family.
Paddy Hansard (73) suffered serious head injuries and broken bones in his neck in a horrific attack which took place at around 2.30am on August 17 at the Courtney Place flat complex in Ballybough, Dublin.
Mr Hansard, a retired scaffolder, was on his way home, with his partner June from a night out, which he had spent in the Clonliffe House pub.
The Dubliner, who has five adult children, along with four brothers and 11 sisters, was rushed to the nearby Mater Hospital by emergency services, in a critical condition.
He battled to stay alive for several weeks in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where he was placed in an induced coma. Eventually, he was moved to a high-dependency ward where he remained up until two weeks ago.
Mr Hansard is now a patient in Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital, in Finglas, Dublin, where he will stay for months to come.
As a result of the attack, he suffered three bleeds to his brain and broken bones in his neck which have left him with a permanent significant brain injury, difficulties with swallowing solid foods, speech constraints and compromised use of the left side of his body.
While Mr Hansard is making medical progress, albeit slowly, doctors have advised his family that he will need round-the-clock care in the future.
Gardai continue to investigate the assault, which featured on RTE's Crimecall programme last September. Officers issued an appeal for information on a mask which was worn by the assailant in the assault.
A man in his 50s was arrested last August and was questioned by gardai in Mountjoy.
He was subsequently released without charge and a file is now with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Looking forward to being allowed by doctors to visit with his children, siblings and partner June away from the hospital for several hours on Christmas Day, a bright, cheery yet emotional Mr Hansard spoke from his hospital bed.
"I'm very thankful to be alive. I know it could have been a very different story. My family might not have me around anymore.
"Only for the skill, unfailing and continual care of medical staff at the Mater Hospital and here in Cappagh, the tale of Paddy Hansard could have had various outcomes and I'm not unaware of that - it is a shocking reality.
"My family, and by that I mean my children, all of my siblings and partner June have been unfailing in helping me.
"But I've put them through so much worry which has left everyone reeling from the incident."
Mr Hansard has recovered his long-term memory to a good extent but has ongoing difficulty with short-term thoughts.
"I remember very little from that night, only what I'm told from my brothers, sisters and my partner June, which is difficult and very upsetting to come to terms with," he said.
"Nobody wants to end up like that - missing hours and days of their life.
"I don't know how I feel about the events of that night - confused I suppose.
"All I have ever wanted was a quiet life. I've a long, difficult road ahead of me, and I know that it will be tough but I'm lucky to be here," added Mr Hansard.
An ardent Manchester United supporter, and one of the founding members of Kilbarrack United Football Club, he said his brother Paul has been his "best mate" over the past four months, and like all of his brothers he shares a very special bond with Paddy.