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New Addington attack victim sees his children for the first time since the night he nearly died

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GARY Hayward's face lights up as he sees his children for the first time since the vicious attack that left him blind more than two and a half years ago.

The father of three was blinded permanently in one eye, and had next to no sight in the other, when he suffered horrific head injuries after being set upon by a gang of youths in New Addington in 2011.

Gary, 32, spent 18 months in an unresponsive state before he woke up. He continued his remarkable recovery earlier this month when an operation restored sight to his right eye.

The photograph on this page, taken last Friday, shows the moment he was able to look upon his three children for the first since the attack.

Wendie Hayward, his mother, told the Advertiser: "He just kept looking at them and giggling: 'I can see you, I can see you.'

"It was an amazing moment. His face lit up. It's what he had been waiting and waiting for since he had the operation. I was delighted for him."

Gary was beaten with metal poles and pieces of wood while protecting his father John from a gang of around 30 teenagers in Central Parade on October 2, 2011.

After an operation to remove a blood clot on his brain Gary was moved to a specialist rehabilitation centre in Kent, where he has been recovering since March 2012.

A year ago he said his first words, and then gave his first interview to the Advertiser. Last month he underwent an operation which restored around 70 per cent of his sight in his left eye by removing blood that had built up behind it.

"Before the operation his sight was around 10 per cent," said Wendie.

"He could see the shape of someone coming into the room and could recognise me and his sister for example, but he couldn't make out people he's not familiar with. But, since the operation, his sight is so much better. It's as if he has been reborn. The doctor was trying to talk to him, but all he was interested in was telling him how much he could see."

With his sight partially restored, Gary has been moved into a self-contained flat on the grounds of the rehabilitation centre, where he is able to wash and feed himself.

He remains unable to walk but that could soon change too as he is due to have an operation on his foot this summer which should mean he will be able to bear his own weight.

Wendie said: "It's 100 per cent certain he's going to walk again. The doctors have said that. There's no doubt it's true, it's just a question of when. It's going to be a lot of hard work."

The family try not to talk to Gary about what happened on the night he was attacked as they want him to remember on his own. For now they continue to focus on his recovery and, in the future, his return home.

"He thinks that if he can cope in the flat he can come home, but I do think it will do him good for now because it will help him be more independent," she said.

"I've told him to give it until he's on his feet and then I will have him home for good."

Four people were arrested following the attack but no one has been charged. Last year police announced the investigation had been shelved due to a lack of "viable leads".

New Addington attack victim sees his children for the first time since the night he nearly died


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