'I died when I was 17' - Italian man (34) left paraplegic after bottle attack in Dublin
An Italian man who was left paraplegic after an unprovoked bottle attack in Dublin in 1999 has said he "died when he was 17".
Guido Nasi was hit with a bottle in an unprovoked attack in Fairview Park almost 20 years ago.
Guido, who was 17 years old at the time, was in Ireland studying English when the attack left him paralysed.
Speaking today, a family friend said Guido feels as though he died that day.
“A group of young boys started to play with him and his friends when they were in the park and one guy stole Guido’s wallet," Bernadette Kelly told RTE's Ray D'Arcy Show.
"Guido chased him when the group ran away and he caught one but when he was holding him waiting for someone to call the police, a man came.
"He wanted to get the child away from Guido so he hit Guido in the head with a bottle and that’s all it took.
"One bang with a bottle and the consequences are what they are now."
Tomorrow is Guido’s 34th birthday. He has spent half of his life paraplegic and severely visually impaired as a result of the attack. He now lives in a third floor apartment in Turin, Italy with his mother Simonetta, who is in her mid-70s.
Bernadette said that Guido feels as though he died that day.
“He sits in a wheelchair with his head supported.
"He can use a keyboard but because his sight is impaired, he has big blobs of coloured plasticine marking certain keys so that when he looks down he can see the colour of that and he knows what key it is.
"But also, his movements are so slow that to type out a word takes him minutes rather than seconds."
Bernadette explained how she became a family friend when gardai requested a translator for his mother who had arrived at Beaumont Hospital to see her seriously injured son.
“His mother didn’t have any English," Bernadette said.
"She was in Beaumont hospital and the guards needed to talk to her and knew I was involved with Tourism Victim Support because I speak Italian. They asked me to go with them to the hospital and they realised she didn’t have anyone there to talk to even the doctors.
"I befriended her at that point and continued to stay with her in the hospital until Guido was taken home.”
It was the first time Guido, an only child, had been allowed leave the country by himself.
“Late at night (his mother) got the call. It was the first time she had ever let him go away on his own," she said,
“On his 18th birthday I asked people through The Herald to send him birthday cards and he got thousands.
"They had to send the van a couple of times to bring all the presents and cards that people had sent him and now they still write to him.”
Now, Bernadette explained, his mother Simonetta is in her mid-70s and soon won’t be able to look after Guido physically.
“It’s planned that Guido will move into a place where he can be looked after away from the city in the countryside because that’s what he always wanted.
"He loved the greenery in Ireland when he was here. He wants to go to a place where he’ll be able to see the sky and plants and trees.
“Simonetta said what happened to Guido could have happened anywhere.
"It could have been outside his door, it could have been anywhere in the world but she said what happened after could only have happened here and she was forever saying how grateful she was for all the help and support they received," she continued.
The man who injured Guido has served his sentence in Ireland.
Guido has returned to Ireland three times since the attack.
“He is so big, we’ve all gone over 70 [years of age] ourselves so we’re no longer to look after him physically they way that we used to. Moving him around is not easy.
“People still remember. People have been so kind. It’s hard too believe that with all the other problems that people have shown kindness to Guido and Simonetta. She would like to thank everyone too.”
A letter that featured in today's Irish Independent:
THUGS ROAMING FREE
Does anyone remember the vicious assault on the young Italian student, Guido Nasi, who was playing football in Fairview Park in 1999?
His wallet was stolen and when he tried to get it back he was hit with a bottle and left paralysed. He lives with his elderly mother in Italy and requires full-time care. The Irish people were deeply shocked by this dreadful attack and many contributed to a fund to help him.
I was reminded of Guido when I saw the horrible attack on a young Brazilian man in Dublin by two thugs who kicked him in the face and left him lying unconscious on the road. It was filmed by someone and posted on YouTube for the whole world to see.
RTE's 'Liveline' has been full of reports of unspeakably violent incidents in Ireland. There was an attack on a non-national family on the Luas and dreadful cases of the most horrible cruelty to defenceless animals by sadistic thugs.
Viciousness, cruelty and sheer savagery are all on the increase.
Dublin is not a safe place to be. I often watch the innocent tourists as they walk around, carrying cameras and admiring our city.
They are so trusting and vulnerable. I have visited many countries but I have never felt the palpable sense of menace that pervades Dublin. O'Connell Street and North Earl Street are awash with drug addicts – a particular phenomenon that seems to have developed in the past two years.
Why is it tolerated?
It seems that feral thugs believe that they can do what they like and nothing will be done about it.
And while we're at it, could we perhaps show our deep sympathy and support to that unfortunate Brazilian student by establishing a fund to help him and show him that we are all sickened by what happened on the feast of our national saint?