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Mugger denies murder bid on Irish coma man

A MAN who beat an Irishman to within inches of his life and left him in a seven-month coma in Australia has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder.

Thomas Isaako, a 20-year-old New Zealand national, pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of Irishman David Keohane in Coogee, Sydney in August 2008 but admitted to robbing him because he was desperate for money.

David Keohane (30) from Cork spent eight months in a coma both in Sydney and then an Irish hospital before finally opening his eyes on St Patrick's Day last year.

The prosecutor in the case, John Pickering, told the jury that Isaako and another man, referred to as Kane, had been drinking at the Coogee Bay Hotel when they came up with the plan to rob someone.

David had been on a night out on the town when he decided to head home and stopped in Coogee for a pizza.

He had almost made it home when he came across Isaako and Kane and he was viciously assaulted.

"David Keohane had no idea who they were, they had no idea who he was, they were complete and utter strangers," Mr Pickering told the jury.

"What David didn't know as he approached was that the accused had agreed with Kane... to bash someone and take their money."

The prosecutor told the jury that the extreme force and violence Isaako used in attacking Mr Keohane would satisfy them that he was guilty of attempted murder.

Mr Pickering told the jury "that David won't ever have a significant quality of life" again.

David has since been making a slow, painstaking recovery from the brain injuries he sustained in the August 2008 attack -- but has shown substantial signs of improvement in his cognitive functions.

Such was the horrific scale of the injuries sustained to the young man's head that Sydney police initially were unable to identify him for 48 hours.

David was eventually flown home to his native Cork in September 2008.

Australian airline Qantas even altered their first class seating section to allow the unconscious Irishman to be flown back home after he had stabilised sufficiently to make the flight. He then received specialist treatment by a neurological team at Cork University Hospital.

His re-emergence from a coma is now being cited as one of the potential cases for the beatification of Australia's first saint. A memento of Sister Mary MacKillop, a nun who died in 1909, was in David's Sydney hospital room and the Keohane family derived great comfort from a prayer to Sister Mary.