West Auckland bar assault: Victim’s high school sweetheart speaks about ‘lonely’ and ‘unfathomable’ journey following attack

The partner of a man left fighting for his life after a brutal attack in a West Auckland bar has spoken of her heartache and hope as he battles to beat the odds and survive a near-fatal head injury.

The 28-year-old was badly beaten at a bar in Kumeu on November 4 while having a beer after work.

The young roofer was only at the bar with his boss and colleague as it was close to the site where they were working.

His friend had a verbal altercation with bar staff and then was allegedly attacked by a group of men.

The victim tried to help his mate and was allegedly struck repeatedly in the head.

Seven men – who cannot be named -have been charged in relation to the attack and are before the courts.

The victim remains in a serious but stable condition in Auckland Hospital.

His family were initially told it was highly unlikely he would survive his injuries.

He underwent three operations to relieve brain swelling, and eventually had half of his skull removed to reduce pressure.

He was on life support until the weekend when, 20 minutes after doctors delivered the grim news that there had been no change and his family should prepare for the worst, he started to wake up and respond.

His partner has been at his side since he was taken to hospital, leaving only for short periods.

“I expected him to come home on that Friday night …. it was his granddad’s 75th birthday and we were supposed to go there,” she told the Herald.

“I was waiting for him to get home, but he never showed up.

“Then at about 8pm I got a call from his friend’s partner saying they’d been taken to hospital after a fight at a bar and he’d been knocked out.

“I didn’t think much of it, until I got to the hospital.”

The woman – who has been with the victim since high school – said when she arrived he was awake and in a bad state.

“He wasn’t himself, he only recognised me … his brain was starting to swell and it was terrible to watch,” she recalled.

“He was in a lot of pain, he wasn’t making any sense, it wasn’t nice to watch at all.

“Two times we were told to prepare for him to pass … he kept crashing, his brain just kept swelling.”

The woman said she “had faith” that her man would pull through but was also realistic given what the doctors had said.

“In the back of my mind, I was prepared to say goodbye … But now he’s pulling through, which is a miracle,” she told the Herald.

She said the last couple of weeks had been hard and she tried to be at the hospital as much as possible.

When she went home she felt lonely, and she did not want her partner to feel that.

“It’s horrible, you read about this stuff but it’s never going to happen to you … I can’t sleep properly, even though he’s doing well, I just don’t want to go home and leave him,” she explained.

“It’s pretty sh**.”

She was gutted that the first offender arrested had been granted bail.

He was initially denied but last week a High Court judge released him on the condition he was electronically monitored and adhered to a strict curfew.

“It’s really disturbing to think he gets to go home and he gets to spend time with his family and my partner is in here like this,” said the woman.

“We don’t know how much of him we have lost … but that guy gets to live life as normal, it’s like getting a detention and getting sent home from school.”

The woman said her focus, though, was on her partner and supporting her wider family.

“I just want to make sure he’s doing ok, make sure he’s not on his own – he always looks upset when people leave,” she said.

“I just want to be here for him as much as I can.”

The plans the couple and their family had for Christmas are now on the back burner as they focus on their new future.

The man may never recover fully and doctors will not know the extent of any damage to his brain until he can breathe on his own and further testing can be carried out.

He is off life support but still reliant on a breathing tube.

“We are hoping he gets to a certain point that we can maybe get him in a wheelchair and take him out to the domain and have Christmas in the park,” his partner said.

“Bring his dog up for him to see … but we’re not too sure how that’s going to go.

“At the moment it’s just all about him, I just want to be there for him.

“This has been unfathomable.”

A Givealittle page was set up to support the victim and his partner and wider family as he recovers – a journey that may take months or years.

More than $3000 has been donated.

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