Belfast Telegraph

Punch charge man in dash from Sydney bail hearing to bedside vigil for brother on life support

By David Young and Steven Alexander

An Irishman facing assault charges for a single punch attack on his brother was at his bedside in hospital last night after being released from custody in Sydney.

And the four sisters of punch victim Patrick Lyttle, who has been placed on a life support machine, are planning to jet from Ireland to New South Wales to join their injured brother at St Vincent's hospital.

Barry Lyttle (33) choked back tears as he was granted bail by an Australian court so he could visit brother Patrick.

Their father, Oliver Lyttle (74), who is a former boxer, told reporters the pair had been inseparable as children.

"They have loved each other since they were kids," said the emotional father, a professional boxer in the 1960s.

He and his older son shared a long emotional hug outside Central Local Court in Sydney, with Barry putting his arms around his father's shoulder before Oliver spoke out about his sons.

He thanked St Vincent's Hospital staff and the general public "for their sympathy".

"My son (Patrick), I think he's not great so I'm going to go over (to the hospital)," he told reporters.

Barry, originally from Belfast but living in recent years in Ballycastle, Co Antrim, has been charged with grievous bodily harm after an incident outside a nightclub in Sydney's popular King's Cross district in the early hours of Saturday.

He was granted strict bail in the Central Local Court yesterday.

Police did not oppose his release but said there was a risk that he would fail to appear.

However, magistrate Les Mabbutt said those risks could be mitigated and he imposed strict bail conditions including that he reside with his aunt in Blacktown, report weekly to police, surrender his passport and refrain from drinking alcohol.

He said that alcohol was present but it did not appear to have been an issue in the incident.

Police prosecutor Stewart Thompson said Barry should not consume alcohol within 12 hours of visiting his brother.

Patrick remained on life support in St Vincent's Hospital last night in a critical but stable condition. He had received surgery to relieve bleeding on his brain after falling backwards and hitting his head on the pavement, allegedly after a punch from his brother Barry.

Barry had wept during his court appearance.

His lawyer, Chris Watson, said his client was "devastated" and wanted to spend most of his time by his brother's bed in hospital while out on bail.

"(They) are very close and (he) is very distressed," Mr Watson said.

He said the family were not wealthy and a friend could offer only $2,000 (£1,061) surety.

His passport has also been surrendered to the court's registrar.

Barry was remanded on bail and will next appear in the same court on January 20.

Last night he visited his ill brother for the first time.

Barry and his father Oliver had arrived in Australia from Ballycastle, Co Antrim, just seven days ago to visit Patrick, who has been travelling around Australia for more than six months.

The brothers had exchanged messages on Facebook for three months before the incident.

In two of them, Barry had told Patrick to "stay safe".

Background

It was supposed to be a wonderful family reunion on the other side of the world from their home in Northern Ireland. But laughter turned to tragedy in the early hours of Saturday morning when brothers Patrick and Barry Lyttle allegedly came to blows in a Sydney street. Today, Patrick is now on a hospital life support machine and Barry is facing trial over claims he threw a punch that made his brother fall and hit his head on the pavement, causing bleeding on his brain.

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