The West

Family s plea on violence
Mitch Cleary was originally given just a 20 per cent chance of survival.

Mitch Cleary was originally given just a 20 per cent chance of survival.

He has beaten those odds but doctors have told his family the best they can now hope for is that one day he will be well enough to feed himself.

The 24-year-old builder is severely brain damaged and confined to a wheelchair after being punched twice in a moment of violence outside a city nightclub more than a year ago.

His family feel blessed that he survived after the blows caused him to fall back and hit his head on the footpath.

But they are struggling to deal with the loss of the person he was and have shared the life-changing consequences of that incident to try to save other families from similar pain.

"If we can stop someone from making that decision to act violently rather than walking away, then what has happened to Mitch isn't a waste," Mitch's sister Shannon said.

"This type of situation . . . is just becoming more and more common. We want to try to prevent this sort of thing happening to another person and another family."

Mitch Cleary

Connor Pestell, the man who punched Mr Cleary, was cleared this week of causing him grievous bodily harm after a jury accepted his claim of self-defence. But he was fined for assaulting Mr Cleary's friend seconds earlier.

Shannon Cleary said the verdict had hurt but her family was glad the court case was behind them and they could focus on helping her brother recover.

She told The West Australian yesterday Mitch had improved since he was injured but they were warned he was unlikely to lead a "meaningful life".

"He might be lucky if he's able to feed himself and brush his teeth . . . but he'll probably always be in a wheelchair and require a full-time carer," she said. "The really sad part is that as good as he can get, at this stage we don't know whether he's the same person on the inside."

But she said the most important thing was that he was still alive.

Connor Pestell, acquitted of causing grievous bodily harm

"From that first day we were all in the emergency room comprehending not having him," she said. "We obviously count our blessings every day that he is still here and whatever elements of his personality are still present, if he does progress enough to be able to communicate with us, we'll be making the most of that."

They are doing what they can to help him recover, getting him into several treatment programs and spending hours with him every day.

Their friends have rallied to help them cover the costs of providing that medical care and equipment.

Donations for A Night in for Mitch, at , have already topped $17,000 since the event was launched.

Ms Cleary said her family were very appreciative of the public support.

The West Australian

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