Close to death: Fady Taiba unconscious in hospital with his niece, Jasmin. Photo: Supplied
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 George Street.
Mr 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 Mr 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 surety, including the title deeds to their Middle Cove home.
Mr 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, Mr 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 Mr 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.''
'The worst sight I have ever seen'
''Our lives have been changed forever.'' Jasmin, the 12-year-old niece of Fady Taiba, writes about what happened the day he was injured.
It was 7am on Saturday morning. The phone rang and I woke up to my mummy crying. I knew that something bad had happened.
We got into the car and headed off to St Vincent's Hospital. At this stage we didn't know the full extent of my Uncle Freddy's condition, all we knew was that he had been hit while he was working.
I heard the word ''king hit'' and I didn't know what it was. I researched it on my iPod and what I figured out was that it's a cowardly act when someone hits someone without them knowing. Why would another human being do this to someone that I love?
Uncle Fred is a gentle person and would never hurt anyone. I cried and cried and felt so sorry for the whole family, especially his wife Danielle and his four beautiful sons Adam, Daniel, Noah and Zach.
When we finally got in to see Uncle Freddy it was the worst sight I have ever seen. There were tubes everywhere and a lot of monitoring machinery around him keeping him alive. There was a plaster on the right side of his forehead saying ''NO BONE FLAP R SIDE''. That was very confronting.
Our lives have been changed forever. Something needs to change and people need to take responsibility for their actions when they drink lots of alcohol otherwise another family will suffer like we have.
Now I'm scared of this happening again to someone I know. I haven't been able to sleep at night and I can't concentrate at school.
If people are going to hurt someone when they drink, then they shouldn't drink. There's got to be a stop to it.