Website clip of attack on Irish tourist helps Sydney police

AN IRISH backpacker was fighting for his life in an Australian hospital last night after a vicious assault.

Police in Sydney confirmed that as part of their investigation into the attack on John Counihan, a 23-year-old from Mallow, in Co Cork, they are examining amateur video footage posted on the internet which shows him lying on the ground shortly after he was attacked.

The one-minute clip on YouTube shows Mr Counihan, who is known to his friends as JP, lying outside the Royal Hotel on Bondi Beach with apparently serious head injuries.

It shows paramedics treating him, strapping his neck into a brace, lifting him onto a stretcher and carrying him to an ambulance. Police then cordon off the area.

An accompanying comment said witnesses reported that an argument had started over a game of pool.

Mr Counihan’s girlfriend and his sister have travelled to Sydney to be at his bedside. They are being assisted by the Irish consulate in Sydney. They are expected to address the media at a police-arranged news conference this morning. Mr Counihan, who had been on a backpacking tour of Australia with friends, may have suffered brain damage in the attack at around 10.15pm last Friday night.

Max Hodges, manager of the Royal Hotel on Bondi Road, said his staff witnessed the initial argument which led to the attack by a group of up to three men of Pacific Islander appearance.

Mr Hodges said English and Irish backpackers stay at the hotel and many local Pacific Islanders frequent the pub.

“They all drink down here and get on fine with each other,” he said.

Police said they believed Mr Counihan was attacked by between two and four men who punched him to the ground before kicking him a number of times around the head. The attackers then fled the scene.

A spokesman for Bondi police said their investigations are continuing.

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