Sisters of a Ballycastle man who was allegedly punched and critically injured by his brother in Australia are trying frantically to obtain emergency visas to travel to Sydney.
Barry Lyttle, 33, was arrested by Australian police after his 31-year-old brother Patrick suffered a head injury in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The older of the two brothers had recently arrived in Sydney, along with their father Oliver, having spent Christmas at home in Co Antrim.
It is understood Patrick has been living in Australia for the past six months.
Ballycastle councillor Cara McShane knows the family well and had been speaking to Barry Lyttle just days before he left to join his brother for a family holiday.
“The older sisters are in the process of trying to get visas, passports and flights booked to get out this week just to be with the brothers and the daddy,” she said.
“I was talking to Barry in the Central Bar in Ballycastle on St Stephen’s night. Both him and Patrick are fellas who would never go past you without speaking – both very friendly.
“It should have been the trip of a lifetime. I always remember them being very close at school and looking out for each other.
“They had a relationship that would have been the envy of other siblings,” the Sinn Fein representative added.
The pair’s father, Oliver, told Australian media that the brothers “have loved each other from when they were kids”.
A police spokesman in New South Wales described the incident as “a tragedy”.
“We now have a father who is facing the reality of one son facing serious criminal charges and another son fighting for his life,” police inspector Michael Fitzgerald said.
Barry Lyttle has been charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm and is due back in court in Sydney on January 20. He has been released on bail following an appearance at Sydney’s Central Court on Monday.
As part of his bail conditions he has had to surrender his passport and report to police weekly.
Mr Lyttle has also been directed to live with his aunt in the Blacktown area and not to consume alcohol. Patrick Lyttle remains on life support in hospital.
The “one-punch” incident comes a year after 18-year-old Australian Daniel Christie died in the same King’s Cross area of Sydney from a single-punch attack.
King’s Cross is well-known as the “party strip”.
Daniel’s father Michael said he is devastated to see “another family stricken by worry and a future tormented with what could have or should have been”, the Irish Independent reported.
Another Australian teenager, Thomas Kelly, 18, died after he was punched in the same district of the New South Wales capital in July 2012.
His attacker, Kieran Loveridge, 19, was sentenced to four years in jail for manslaughter after the original murder charge was downgraded to the lesser offence.