On the same day that Michael McEwen walked unsteadily from St Vincent’s Hospital, his alleged attacker walked from Silverwater remand centre on bail.
Despite a magistrate ruling last month that Jamie Ennis, 24, should remain in custody to ”send a strong message to the community” about alcohol-fuelled violence, the Bondi removalist was released on Monday afternoon because he didn’t swing the punch that landed McEwen in a coma for a week.
Real men walk away from a fight. They stop fights.
Police allege Mr Ennis grabbed Mr McEwen’s T-shirt before an unidentified man came around the back of a Bondi bus stop and threw an unprovoked punch that knocked the IT consultant out.
Mr Ennis was thrown out of the Beach Road Hotel in Bondi in the early hours of December 14 and was seen on CCTV stumbling from the area before starting a verbal altercation with Mr McEwen outside a beachside kebab store.
Mr McEwen, 23, crossed the road to walk away but Mr Ennis and others followed him to a bus stop, continuing to bait him.
A court heard Mr Ennis was already on bail at the time for a near-identical assault in Bondi in September, in which he produced a machete and punched a man outside his house.
Both times, he was the aggressor and had to be restrained by others to stop him from assaulting his victims more seriously, police prosecutor David Anderson said.
”It was the accused who initiated the conflict in the first place,” Sergeant Anderson said.
He implored the court to deny bail because ”the community is rightly sick and tired of alcohol-fuelled violence” but magistrate Michael Barko gave Mr Ennis yet another chance.
Mr Barko said that, at face value, there was no evidence to suggest Mr Ennis did anything other than rip a man’s shirt.
”There is no evidence that this defendant even knew that the unknown male would attack the victim,” he said.
He said Mr Ennis clearly had problems with drinking and violence and he banned him from drinking anywhere other than his home while on bail.
Just minutes later, Michael McEwen took his first steps out of St Vincent’s Hospital in a development his family said was nothing short of ”miraculous”.
Less than a month after entering a coma, he has been transferred to Ryde Rehabilitation Centre where he will learn how to walk, talk and function properly again.
”It’s an incredible day because we didn’t expect him to be here so soon,” said his father, Rob.
”The first week was tough, that was a rollercoaster because we didn’t know if he would survive”.
He said governments had to put more resources into campaigns targeting potential offenders.
”Real men walk away from a fight,” he said. ”They stop fights.”