Justin Schick emerged from hospital weak and ravaged by alcohol abuse, but determined to make a fresh start in the new year.
Less than two weeks later, the 43-year-old was dead, the victim of an alleged attack outside a rehabilitation centre in the city’s inner-north on the weekend.
Mr Schick fought for life for several days after the incident, which is still being investigated by criminal investigations detectives, but his condition rapidly deteriorated on Tuesday, and he died early on Wednesday morning after his life support machine was switched off.
Initial investigations suggest Mr Schick was punched outside his residence at the Ainslie Village in Campbell on Saturday night.
The attack occurred on the same day on which Mr Schick was picked up by patrolling police, who found him heavily intoxicated in Ainslie on Saturday afternoon.
He was returned to his community housing residence in Ainslie Village later that night, and was involved in a dispute. He was punched and fell to the ground, before being taken to the Canberra Hospital for observation on Sunday morning.
Fairfax Media can reveal that Mr Schick was suffering from severe liver damage, and was released from hospital in early January with a drastically low platelet count.
Just 11 days before his death, Mr Schick posted on his Facebook page a message about his fragile health, which he said was caused largely by alcoholism and bleeding to the brain after a fall. He had also suffered from several brain haemorrhages in the past.
‘‘If I have any kind of injury at the moment there is nothing much they could do because of blleeding [sic] problems,’’ he wrote. ‘‘Life can be short and good friends mean a lot when ya have time to contemplate ... LOVE YOU ALL ... love life and I intend to be around longer than the doctors have speculated.’’
Police say they are still trying to track down witnesses to the incident.
Detective Sergeant Donna Parsons said ‘‘a better picture of what occurred’’ would be formed once witnesses has been interviewed.
Posts of sympathy and tribute were left on Mr Schick’s Facebook page on Wednesday.
‘‘Soul of gold, eyes that sparkle with warmth. My Justin,’’ one wrote.
His family has been notified by police, and were at the hospital with Mr Schick.
Police are also calling for witnesses, and anyone who can assist their examination should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via the website.