AN Australian who viciously assaulted Irishman David Keohane has been cleared of attempted murder.
A jury in Sydney acquitted 21-year-old scaffold worker Thomas Isaako after he admitted striking Mr Keohane in an assault which left the Cork native in a coma for seven months.
Isaako had been charged with committing the crime in the seaside suburb of Coogee in the early hours of August 9, 2008.
The jury's decision came as another Irishman was hospitalised with serious brain injuries following an assault in Sydney.
Isaako and another man, Kane Tupuolamoui, were alleged to have beaten Mr Keohane, who was 29, so severely that virtually every bone in his face was fractured and he came very close to dying.
The two men, who had been drinking and smashing car windows with a pole as they walked along the street, made off after taking Mr Keohane's wallet. The victim was subsequently found lying in a pool of blood.
He was in a coma before waking on St Patrick's Day last year after having been repatriated to Ireland on September 15, 2008.
Dr Vanessa Sammons, the neurosurgeon registrar who treated him in Sydney, told the court Mr Keohane's Glasgow Coma Score, which measures the severity of coma cases, had been three, "akin to someone who is deceased". "In my first conversation with David's family, I said he could possibly live, but he would never be the person he was," she said.
In a police interview, Isaako said he and Mr Tupuolamoui went on a drinking session before deciding to "roll" someone. They came across Mr Keohane who was returning home with a pizza and attacked him.
Isaako threw "four or five" punches and Mr Tupuolamoui "eight or nine". The defendant said he asked Mr Tupuolamoui to stop hitting the victim.
In the New South Wales District Court, Judge Ron Soloman said in his summing up that the jury had to be satisfied Isaako had inflicted grievous bodily harm with intent to kill Mr Keohane.
Isaako had pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated robbery and assault occasioning grievous bodily harm arising from the incident.
The jury returned a not guilty verdict to the attempted murder charge.
Police said outside the court that a warrant for Mr Tupuolamoui's arrest was still outstanding.
Meanwhile, an Irishman assaulted in Randwick on Sunday at 8pm was taken to the intensive care unit of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
Police say the attack happened at the Royal Hotel.
The 29-year-old man, who was living in Coogee, fell back and hit his head on the ground.
Police arrested a 19-year-old man at his Randwick home yesterday afternoon. He was charged with recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm.
It was the third serious assault of an Irishman in the eastern suburbs of Sydney in the past two years.
Six months ago, 23-year-old Gearoid Walsh died after he was punched during a fight in a Coogee kebab shop.