Irish man granted bail over Sydney ‘one punch’ attack that left brother critical

Barry Lyttle (33) charged with attacking Patrick who sustained serious head injury

Brothers Barry (left) and Patrick Lyttle from Ballycastle in Northern Ireland. Patrick is critically ill in an Australian hosptal after Barry is alleged to have struck him.

An Irish man was last night granted bail by an Australian court after being charged over an assault in Sydney that has left his brother in a critical condition.

Bail was granted on foot of $2,000 (Aus) to Barry Lyttle (33). There were two conditions attached: that he surrender his passport; and not approach his brother within 12 hours of drinking alcohol.

Mr Lyttle, from Ballycastle, Co Antrim, allegedly punched his brother Patrick (31) on a night out in the Kings Cross area at around 3am local time on Saturday. Mr Lyttle sustained a serious head injury when he fell to the ground after being struck.

He was in a critical but stable condition last night following surgery at St Vincent’s Hospital to relieve pressure on his brain.


His older brother was arrested at the scene of the alleged assault and taken to Kings Cross police station before being charged with causing grievous bodily harm. He later appeared in court via video link.

He did not apply for bail at that stage and the case was adjourned to the central local court. When magistrate Anthony Spence commented that the victim was the accused's brother, Barry Lyttle put his head down and began to cry.

Photographs of him at the scene of the incident as his brother was being treated by medics also showed him in a distressed state.

"Once again alcohol seems to have played a part," Mr Spence told the subsequent court hearing. However, Supt Michael Fitzgerald of the New South Wales Police said alcohol was not an aggravating factor in the alleged assault.

Under New South Wales law there is a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in jail for assaults where a high level of alcohol is involved.

For the law to apply there has to be a blood alcohol reading of 0.15 or more; three times the legal driving limit in the state.

But the mandatory minimum sentence will not be applicable in this case, as Barry Lyttle’s blood alcohol reading was less than 0.079 when he was breathalysed at the scene.

The accused man was in Australia to visit his brother who had been living and working there since last June.

Barry Lyttle arrived there with his father Oliver (74) four days before the assault that has left Patrick on a life support machine. The family were originally from Belfast but have been living in Ballycastle for a number of years.

Supt Fitzgerald said the men’s father, whose wife is deceased, was in shock. “The pain in his eyes, you could not describe it,” he said.

The incident was captured on CCTV.


A year ago, following the deaths of two young men caused by “one punch” assaults, the New South Wales government introduced “lockout” laws in parts of central Sydney with a heavy concentration of bars and nightclubs.

The measures impose curfews on the times premises that serve alcohol can continue to admit people and also set times for last orders.

Previously some pubs and clubs opened all night.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times

Pádraig Collins

Pádraig Collins

Pádraig Collins a contributor to The Irish Times based in Sydney