A great grandfather who was left fighting for life, following an unprovoked attack, knows 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 due to 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 spent in the Clonliffe House pub.
He was rushed to the nearby Mater Hospital by emergency services, in a critical condition.
He battled to stay alive in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for several weeks 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.
A man in his 50s, who was understood to have lived at the complex, was arrested on Saturday, August 17 and was questioned for a time by gardaí 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 speaking from his hospital bed said: “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.
"But I’ve put them through so much worry which has left everyone reeling from the incident.”
Mr Hansard, who has recovered his long term memory, to a good extent, has ongoing difficulty with short term thoughts. He revealed he remembers a scant amount of what happened on the night of the assault.
“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. 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 quite 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.
His daughter Linda says she continues to try to come terms with how life “can change within seconds.”
"The father we had seconds before the attack is not the father and man we have now. Not only has his life changed forever, but so have the lives of his children, grandchildren and great grand daughter, all of his siblings and close friends.
"But we have our father with us and that means everything to us all no matter what road his life will now take in the years to come.”