A new year but same old scourge of crime
Great-gran blames drug dealing thugs for attacks on her Co Antrim home
Published 03/01/2008 | 07:23
A great-grandmother has spoken of her terror following attacks on her home which she says stem from action she took against drugs dealers.
Windows were broken, a back door damaged and a curtain set on fire at the home of Ann Henry (59), a Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, on West Road estate in Portglenone yesterday.
Police said last night that a 22-year-old man from Portglenone was due at Ballymena Magistrates Court today charged with criminal damage with intent to endanger life, criminal damage, and breach of an anti-social behaviour order. Ms Henry, who moved to the village seven years ago after living in London for over 30 years, told the Belfast Telegraph she was lying awake in her room watching a film at the time: "I just can't sleep. I was lying watching a film when I heard a smash at around 5.10am. I walked through and saw the curtain on fire.
"I phoned my neighbour and then I saw that the bathroom window and the back bedroom window was broken," she said.
She said this morning's attack was the second time her house had been targeted and she had been left "totally exhausted".
But Ms Henry, whose children and grandchildren live in London, said she could not leave.
"I feel I can't leave my house because I am frightened to leave because if I leave, what are they going to do then?"
The 59-year-old called for further action from police.
She said: "I am absolutely petrified... I said to the police sergeant: " What is it going to take? Are they going to have to put a fire bomb through my house before you are doing something about it?"
Ms Henry said the attacks stemmed from action which she took against drugs and anti-social behaviour in the village.
"A chap wearing a Halloween mask came to my door and tried to put a firework through the letter box on Halloween night two years ago.
"I said to him: 'What are you wearing that mask for?' and I pulled down the mask on him and I took him to court and got an ASBO against him.
"I started the residents' association after that."
She praised neighbours from both sides of the community for supporting her over the attacks.
SDLP MLA, Declan O'Loan said the attack should be treated as attempted murder and said Ms Henry needed protection: "This was a very serious attack. She could easily be dead today and there is a responsibility to do everything possible to protect her. She has been public-spirited enough to take on a public role in protecting her community working with the PSNI. She must be supported in turn," he concluded.