David home after gruelling flight from Australia

This article was originally published by The Irish Examiner.

A YOUNG Irish man who was beaten and left for dead in a brutal attack in Australia five weeks ago has arrived home.

As they watched their comatose son being stretchered out of a Sydney hospital, David Keohane’s parents, Tom and Rita, pleaded with police to bring his attackers to justice.

David, 29, from Ballyvolane in Cork City, was in a comfortable condition in Cork University Hospital (CUH) last night — his entire family at his bedside — after a gruelling flight from Sydney, and an air ambulance flight from London.

He will be in CUH for some time. A Prince of Wales Hospital spokeswoman would not comment on his condition as he left Australia yesterday morning, saying the family had requested total privacy.

But before he left for home, Tom Keohane issued a statement through New South Wales police thanking everyone who had offered them support during “this traumatic time”.

“From the moment we arrived here to see David, the people we have met and spoken to have been so generous. They have been shocked at the injuries David has suffered, but they have all tried to help. To the doctors and hospital staff I would like to say a special thank you for your care. To the community I would like to thank you for your prayers on our behalf and to the police I urge you to help give us some closure on this terrible time in our lives,” he said.

Speaking earlier, his wife Rita, said their son was simply in “the wrong place at the wrong time”.

“They (his attackers) need to be taken off the street. It is really heart-breaking to see your son lying there in that condition. We are hoping and praying he will recover sufficiently to one day be able to travel home with us,” she said.

David was left for dead after being attacked while walking home from a party in the beachside suburb of Coogee, a popular area for tourists, on August 9.

His head injuries were so severe it took police 48 hours to identify him.

He had to undergo facial reconstructive surgery and has spent the past five weeks in a medically-induced coma.

Tom and Rita and their daughter, Carmel, have been at David’s bedside over the past month. They left Sydney on board a Qantas flight for Heathrow that was specially modified to take David’s stretcher and medical staff.

He received round-the-clock care on the gruelling long-haul flight.

The aircraft touched down at Heathrow early yesterday where David and his sister, Carol, were transferred to an air ambulance.

It was provided free of charge by Kildare-based Lifeline Ambulances after David’s sister, Sinead, made an emotional plea on the national airwaves last Friday.

The cost of the flight, which would normally have cost about €16,000, was covered by Lifeline’s managing director David Hall.

Tom and Rita boarded a scheduled flight to Cork while the air ambulance, with two medics on board, took off.