A man stabbed in the heart in an unprovoked knife attack yesterday recalled the moment he regained consciousness in hospital, only to discover the assault left him blind.
Killyleagh man Marc Keller (29) spent nine weeks in hospital after he was stabbed up to six times in Belfast after a night out with his brother Anthony and two other friends.
Belfast Crown Court heard that 16 medics were waiting for Mr Keller when he was rushed into the A&E department of the city's Royal Victoria Hospital early on November 6, 2005.
One of the stab wounds sliced a main artery in Mr Keller's heart while a lung was also damaged in the attack, which occurred outside the Northern Bank at Donegal Square West. His brother Anthony (22) also sustained a minor stab wound to his leg in the incident.
Two Belfast men - Alan Stewart (20) from Finnis Close and Adam Smyth (19) from Bests Hill - are standing trial for attempted murder of Marc and inflicting actual bodily harm on his brother Anthony. The accused deny the charges against them.
During yesterday's hearing, the court watched a PSNI video interview conducted with Mr Keller at his home in April last year. He told officers that before the attack robbed him of his sight, he drove lorries for his father's business delivering plants across Ireland.
He said he remembered making preparations for his evening out with the three other men and recalled having a drink in Weatherspoon's but could not remember being in Sky nightclub.
It was after the four left the nightclub and went to get a taxi that they were approached by Stewart, Smyth and a third man not before the court.
Saying he could recall nothing about the attack, Mr Keller said: "I remember coming round in the hospital a bit but not being able to focus. I heard my dad's voice asking if I could see him. He told me to trust him, that everything was going to be OK. He asked if I could see my mum. I could hear her but I remember not being able to see her but I knew she was there."
Mr Keller revealed that during his nine weeks in hospital, he had to learn to walk again. He has splints on both feet to assist walking and continues to attend physiotherapy. When asked about losing his sight, he said: " It's like when you're in a swimming pool and you open your eyes under the water and it's all blurry. That's the way my sight is - distorted and blurry. "
Earlier in the hearing, Anthony recalled leaving the nightclub and encountering a group of three men outside the bank.
He said he remembered being "swung about" and pulled to the ground where he was kicked in the teeth. Prior to this, he said: "I remember seeing Marc lying there, completely still and unconscious. There was a bit of blood but it didn't click that he had been stabbed at that stage."
He recalled hearing hours after the attack there was a strong chance his older brother was going to die from his wounds.