Sexual assault victim recognizes family after emergency brain surgery

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By Emily Moorhouse of

Court Christchurch

An 18-year-old appeared in Christchurch District Court where he admitted the attack on Wyton King.
Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

A woman “counts her blessings” her little brother awoke from a coma with enough memory to recognize his family after he had brain surgery and was given a “bleak” prognosis after a vicious bar attack.

“When I can’t be with him, I call him every day,” Wyton King’s sister wrote on a Giveattle page created to support his recovery.

“I count my blessings, he remembers who I am and the bond we share.”

King was left “fighting for his life” in an induced coma after being attacked in the midst of a brawl at a Christchurch pub involving up to 20 people in the early hours of October 23.

An 18-year-old appeared in Christchurch District Court today, admitting to assaulting King.

On the night of the attack, the perpetrator, whose name has been provisionally removed, was at the Rockpool Bar, where he was heavily intoxicated after downing a bottle of Malibu Rum, the summary of the facts said.

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At around 12:15 a brawl broke out outside the bar and spilled onto the street. As the brawl grew in numbers, the perpetrator joined in and began beating several people.

As security personnel and bystanders tried to intervene, a man receiving help from a security guard received six blows to the perpetrator’s head.

The victim fell to the floor in a fetal position and the perpetrator was stopped by security.

But when the brawl subsided, he remained angry and agitated. Several people, including King, who did not know the perpetrator, tried to calm him down.

Soon after, he headed over to King, who was focused on something else at the time, and delivered a punch to the right side of his face.

King was knocked unconscious when he fell and hit his head on the footpath.

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The perpetrator fled the scene and continued to fight with people in the area until police were able to locate him and he was arrested.

When the police approached him about his first victim, the perpetrator claimed he was a trained fighter and was “just swinging… doing what he had to do”. He said he had no recollection of attacking King.

King was rushed to hospital in critical condition and kept in an induced coma. Scans showed a large subcutaneous cerebral hemorrhage and a skull fracture.

The Giveattle page, which has raised more than $32,000 in support, said King underwent emergency brain and jaw surgery and suffered a serious stroke as a result of his injuries.

After a week in intensive care, King’s family was told his prognosis was “extremely bleak.”

However, the latest update on the page said that while King is in the post-traumatic amnesia phase of his recovery, he is doing well physically.

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“We, his family, are extremely grateful for the outpouring of love sent our way by his many friends. We are learning how truly loved our Winnie is,” the page read.

In court on Friday, the teen pleaded guilty to a charge of wounding with intent to hurt and assault with intent to hurt.

His lawyer Rupert Ward asked the judge to extend the interim order to suppress the name due to the age of his client.

“This is a case involving an 18-year-old who has never been in trouble before… 18-year-olds are adolescents. They don’t always make rational decisions,” Ward said.

Judge Stephen O’Driscoll granted an extension to the suppression order and requested a pre-sentence report.

The case was also referred to restorative justice ahead of the teen’s sentencing on April 14.