Paul Deaton, who was attacked near his home in Dublin last month, saw his dream come true when a listener to the Anton Savage Show on Today FM arranged a special day out for him.
Paul, 31, has always loved diggers, tractors, and buses.
On the evening of Wednesday, April 15, he was on his way to Fairview Park, close to his home in Marino in Dublin, to indulge his hobby of photographing tractors and JCBs when he was attacked.
Paul was knocked over and kicked by a gang of up to five teenagers who taunted and threatened him. He eventually escaped and a passerby came to his aid. He spent eight hours in hospital and required four staples and stitching to the head wound he sustained.
Paul is still traumatised and gets scared that he will encounter the people who subjected him to the attack.
“He keeps asking, ‘Have they got them yet?’” Paul’s sister Linda said.
After the attack, Linda launched an appeal on Facebook to locate the perpetrators, who threatened to burn and rape Paul before kicking him repeatedly in the head.
Gardaí took Paul to the scene of his attack and he was able to describe the clothes of some of his attackers and the fact that they were carrying mobile phones and may have filmed some of his ordeal.
The investigation is ongoing but there have been no arrests to date, gardaí said.
Eoin O’Lomasney of ECI JCB’s branch in Carrigtwohill, Co Cork, made contact with the Anton Savage Show after hearing Linda on the programme in April, when she spoke about the vicious attack on her brother.
ECI JCB arranged a visit for Paul and his mother Dorothy to its Dublin branch, where his dream of driving a JCB came true.
Paul met with managing director Denis Murray, who presented him with a model and a key of his favourite machine, the 3CX Backhoe loader. “He called me as soon as the visit was over,” Linda said. “He was delighted.”
Linda said the family had been overwhelmed and touched by the public response to Paul’s attack.
“People come up to him on the street to reassure him that he’s fine and has nothing to fear,” she said.
Paul’s confidence is slowly returning. Public support for Paul has been “amazing”, Linda said.
“People from America and New Zealand have been in touch, we’ve had cards and offers of gifts. He’s been offered so many day trips and visits from different people that it’s really taking his mind off his fear.
“He still only gets the bus a couple of times a week now instead of every day but he’s definitely getting better.”