A security guard who was king hit after refusing an investment banker entry to a city bar has woken from a coma in a surprising turn that reduced a detective to tears.
Fady Taiba's sister Tess admitted she was starting to lose hope when the 43-year-old father of four had shown no signs of life three weeks after being punched in the head outside Bar 333 on Sydney's George Street.
Taiba, known as Fred, came perilously close to death and had been motionless in a serious condition for 19 days before finally opening his eyes on Wednesday.
When asked how many children he had, he held up four fingers. He has squeezed his wife Danielle's hand, patted his niece Jasmin on the head and held his sister's shoulder.
His 17-year-old son Adam, who is putting together a presentation for students on alcohol-fuelled violence in the wake of the horrific incident, said his dad had poked his tongue out, put his right thumb up and shaken his eldest son's hand.
''But the happiest sign was when he was facing mum with his eyes open and mum said, 'Fred, your baby Adam is here', and he moved his head and looked straight at me,'' Adam said.
UBS banker James Longworth has been charged with grievous bodily harm with intent and assault occasioning actual bodily harm for allegedly punching Taiba once to the right side of his head at 10pm on September 6, causing him to fall backwards and hit his head on a tiled floor.
The 32-year-old, who lives with his mother on the lower north shore, explained to a court earlier this month: ''It is a very, very silly reason, but he made fun of me. I'd had too much to drink and I just snapped.''
He was released on bail after his mother put up more than $1 million (NZ$1.13 million) surety, including the title deeds to their Middle Cove home.
Taiba was working as a security guard to supplement his day job as a first aid instructor, so he could earn enough for his four sons to go to good schools and take part in everything from swimming to dancing.
Last Sunday, Taiba's family told Fairfax Media that doctors had no idea whether he would come out of a coma. A machine is still helping him breathe and he is unable to speak.
Tess Taiba said she arrived at St Vincent's Hospital with her 12-year-old daughter Jasmin just minutes after Taiba opened his eyes.
The only person in the room was a detective working on the case who broke down in tears, she said. ''He just wanted to tell Fred who he was but he said he couldn't even do that, he was too emotional,'' said Tess.
Adam said his mum Danielle had kept the family positive but Tess admitted she had some dark moments.
''Last weekend I didn't have a lot of hope,'' she said. ''I don't know why but I just had this bad feeling, it had been too long without any positive signs. But now, we're all smiling.''
- Fairfax Media