Northern Ireland news

Belfast man critically injured in 'one punch' attack says he will never return to Australia

 Michael Hyndman in hospital after a one-punch attack in Australia.
Picture by Michael Hyndman/PA Wire

A WEST Belfast man who spent four months in an Australian hospital after a one-punch attack left him fighting for his life says he will never return to the country he had intended to make his home.

Michael Hyndman moved to Australia with his girlfriend in September last year and had been due to to start training with Craobh Phadraigh GAA club in Sydney when he was attacked after a New Year’s Eve night out.

Mr Hyndman also said he believed his case was not taken seriously enough.

He alleged his case would have been treated differently by prosecutors were he still in Australia and not home in Belfast.

Mr Hyndman said: “It is disappointing. I just feel like if I was an Australian citizen they would take it more seriously, I am just a backpacker from another country.”

Three people were charged in connection with the incident.

Two have been convicted of affray and received 18 month prison sentences, which were suspended, while a third man charged with grievous bodily harm has yet to stand trial.

The 24-year-old quantity surveyor had been out with friends to celebrate the new year at a fireworks display and after returning to the suburb where he was living he said he planned to watch the sunrise in the Coogee Beach area when an altercation broke out.

Belfast man Michael Hyndman said he will never return to Australia after being attacked on New Years Eve.

Mr Hyndman was punched once, the blow broke his jaw and knocked him unconscious.

He hit his head on a pavement, which fractured his skull and with two bleeds to his brain his family were told he was not likely to survive and flew to Australia to be at his bedside.

“I wasn’t around when the argument broke out and stumbled into the middle of it and after that I don’t remember very much until I woke up in the high dependency unit 17 days later,” Mr Hyndman said.

“Most of January is a blur. My family thought I was gone. In total I had 15 weeks of treatment and rehabilitation. I had to relearn even the most basic skills.

“I arrived back in Ireland in April after getting clearance to fly and I can say I’ll never be back in Australia.

“I had always planned to get out of west Belfast, to migrate and make a life and a living in Australia, this wasn’t a holiday, I was considering making it my home.

“But I would never go back. I couldn’t it’s not safe for working professionals. If my experience is anything to go by if anything happens to you they just don’t care, even if you’re contributing positively to the economy.

“I’m unhappy at how my case has been handled, unhappy at the sentences received so far and the lack of information I have received as a victim.”

Now back home in Dunmurry, Mr Hyndman is due another surgery to have a titanium plate fitted in his skull.

“I still can’t do normal things someone my age should be doing: I can’t play sport, can’t go to the gym, can’t socialise, I’m suffering from anxiety – it’s not just the lasting physical injuries its the mental trauma as well,” he said.

The Samoan national charged with the  attack on Mr Hyndman is to appear in court in Australia in December for committal proceedings, prior to facing trial.

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