'Life has stopped' – daughter of great-grandfather left with brain injury after horrific attack

A daughter whose father has been left with a permanent brain injury after an attack outside his home has said, “life has stopped” since that horrific night five weeks ago.

Great grandfather, Paddy Hansard (73) suffered serious head injuries and broken bones in his neck due to the attack, which took place at approximately 2.30am on August 17 at Courtney Place flat complex in Ballybough, Dublin.

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The highly respected family man, who has five adult children, along with four brothers and 11 sisters, was rushed to the nearby Mater Hospital by emergency services, where he remained in a critical condition for several weeks. He suffered three bleeds to his brain and broken bones in his neck and, as a result, remains in a neck brace, suffers with confusion, concentration issues and a continuing loss of movement on his left side.

His daughter, Linda, who turns 47 tomorrow, revealed that, “life hasn’t moved forward since the early hours of that Saturday morning when I was driving into the hospital. I didn’t know what was facing me. Since then I haven’t been able to sleep and life has become overwhelming due to what has happened. I can’t stop crying but it is my way of coping”.

Linda and her four siblings – Sandra, Debbie, Paul and Mark – are all dealing with what has happened to their much-loved father in different ways. For Linda, she is coming to terms with how life, “can change within seconds.

“The father we had seconds before the attack is not the father and man we have now. Not only has his life changed forever, but so have the lives of his children, grandchildren and great-granddaughter, all of his siblings and close friends. In the blink of an eye, so many lives have been changed irrevocably.

“He is the gel in all our lives. He kept us all together as a family. Dad would go to the opening of an envelope and by that I mean, he would make sure to go to all the events in our lives, those of his siblings and dear friends.

“For a man who has worked hard since the age of 14 until his mid 60s, was always respectful to others and helped whenever he could, what has happened to him is just not right and he didn’t deserve it.

“He always believed everyone should be looked after in the family and those in his working life. He was a well-known man for good reasons and a very loyal person to his family, friends and work colleagues. He stood proud for working rights. He had his beliefs and people respected him for that.”

Linda recounted that her childhood was full of holidays to Butlins and Bettystown, Co Meath, and he took them to the seaside whenever he could.

The retired scaffolder has now been moved to a high dependency ward where he will remain for several weeks. He had been on a life-support machine for several weeks as medical staff were unsure if he would pull through.

The vicious attack on Mr Hansard will be the focus of tomorrow night’s RTE hour-long TV programme Crimecall.

Linda, a mother-of-three, is very thankful to have her father – whom she describes as being a big, strong, full of life and laughter and a social man – still in her life as she knows the aftermath of the attack could have been, “unthinkable”.

“I’ve come to terms with what has happened to my father but I’ll never come to terms with the attack.

“I shouldn’t feel like I do and to a certain extent in fear of my life and how life as you know it can change so quickly.

“It’s horrific to live like this. I wouldn’t like anyone to go through this. It pains me to see his siblings so upset over him when they are at the hospital but we are all pulling together to help one another.

“I don’t understand how a person or persons can attack anyone regardless of whether they are young or old.

“What happened to my father was a brutal, callous and vicious attack. It upsets me so much to think of the pain he went through when he was hit and in the aftermath.”

Mr Hansard was hit on the head with a shovel just metres from his home. A man in his 50s was arrested just hours after the attack, and was questioned for a time by gardai based in Mountjoy. He was subsequently released without charge and a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Linda decided to speak about the vicious attack for several reasons. Firstly, to thank everyone from Dublin and nationwide for their support and well wishes.

“We grew up in Kilbarrack, which is still the family home with our Mam and Dad and I still live there. The communities of Kilbarrack and Ballybough have been so good to us and for that I and everyone else in our family will be forever grateful. The doctors and nurses in the Mater Hospital for being so decent to us and for treating my father with the dignity he deserves.

“I also want to thank the gardai. I have full faith and confidence in them and they will bring the person or persons involved in my father’s attack to justice. That is why I, my uncle Paul and Dad’s partner June agreed to take part in the Crimecall programme.

“I want to appeal for anyone who may have dash cam footage if they were passing the area at the time to come forward to the gardai.”

Linda and her uncle Paul are also trying to come to terms with the financial costs of what the attack will mean for their father and brother. They have now set-up a crowd funding campaign on gofundme.com/PaddyHansard Fund. The family are hoping to raise €50,000. “The simple fact is Dad will never be able to look after himself again. It is a long road ahead for him. He won’t be able to return to his home as he will be in a wheelchair.

“If we have to take him to the UK or any other country to help with his rehabilitation then that is what we will do. Any refurbishment of where he will live, medical equipment, physiotherapy and speech therapy, etc is going to cost a significant amount.”

Filming for Crimecall took place throughout last week with interviews focusing on the events of August 17, locations Mr Hansard visited in the hours prior to the attack and with his family including Linda, his brother Paul and partner June.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Mountjoy Garda Station on 01-6668601, or the Garda Confidential Line on 18000 666 111.

Crimecall will air tomorrow at 9.35pm on RTE One.

Read more: Great-grandfather (75) in coma after being attacked ‘in dispute over noise’

Read more: ‘Paddy was the last man who deserved to end up fighting for his life’ – family tells of sorrow after attack on great-grandfather

Read more: Gardai believe ‘Guy Fawkes’ mask was worn by attacker in assault on Paddy Hansard (75)

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