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Family appeal for witnesses after 20-year-old man left brain-damaged in Hackney

PUBLISHED: 11:37 04 November 2013 | UPDATED: 11:37 04 November 2013

Niall McGrath before he suffered traumatic brain injury in 1989

Niall McGrath before he suffered traumatic brain injury in 1989

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The family of a 20-year-old man left brain damaged in a mysterious incident 25 years ago think they have got to the bottom of what happened - but need witnesses to come forward.

Niall McGrath, now 45, was left in a vegetative state after sustaining serious head injuries at the Lee Arms Bar, in Marlborough Avenue, Hackney, on March 6, 1989, and is currently in a nursing home in his native Ireland.

He was left in a coma for weeks after the incident and his life support machine was switched off as doctors thought he would never recover, but he survived.

Despite a police investigation, for years it has remained a mystery as to what happened to Mr McGrath at the pub where he also lived.

But police have now reopened the case after the family told officers that they have uncovered new evidence shedding light on the events.

Speaking from her home in Longford, Ireland, sister Sandy Roper, 45, said the family was originally told by staff at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, where Mr McGrath was first treated, that he had been dropped off my two men who claimed he had been drinking 15 pints a day and had fallen down the stairs of the pub.

However, in the last couple of months, Mrs Roper said the family had received more information indicating that it wasn’t an accident.

She said: “We still don’t know the truth, but it has come to our attention that he was thrown down the stairs following a row.

“There’s no way a 20-year-old would drink like that. He didn’t do that at home so why would he do it there?

“We are happy he is alive, but his whole life has been ruined because of this. We are not rich and he did not get any compensation. If he had, I would say he would be much better now.”

Mrs Roper said the family believe they know who pushed her brother down the stairs, but need people present at the pub – which closed several years later – to testify. Anyone with information should call the Metropolitan Police on 101 quoting crime reference number 4610881/13.

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