Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Coma man’s father hopes more will face courts

The father of a Londonderry man who has been in a coma for more than three years following a savage sectarian assault, has said he is still confident police will bring his son’s attackers to justice.

James McCauley was speaking out after a Court of Appeal decided not to reduce the sentence on the only person convicted over the brutal attack.

Paul McCauley (33), was attacked at a barbecue in the Waterside in July 2006 and has never regained consciousness.

Yesterday Darryl Proctor (19), who had previously admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent, failed to have his 12 year sentence reduced.

Proctor, from the Fountain in Derry, was 15-years-old when he and up to seven others attacked Mr McCauley.

Lord Justice Coghlin told the court that Mr McCauley had been subjected to a concerted assault involving kicking and stamping causing a fracture of his skull.

The judge said Mr McAuley is still in a minimally responsive state, unable to vocalise or verbalise.

“He has to be fed through a tube and is totally dependent upon nursing staff and carers. There is no potential for any recovery at this stage. He will remain in a low-level conscious, probably vegetative, state and will require full-time care for the rest of his life.”

Lord Justice Coghlin said it was common case that the assaults by a 20-strong mob were motivated by sectarianism.

Lord Justice Coghlin said Proctor had taken part in a totally unprovoked sectarian assault that resulted in appalling injuries to Mr McAuley.

“While we accept the sentence was severe, the courts have a duty to respond to such sectarian violence by imposing sentences severe enough to sufficiently mark the total abhorrence of law abiding society and adequately comply with the requirements of deterrence and retribution,” he said.

Paul McCauley’s father James welcomed the judge’s decision.

He added: “We are satisfied that Mr Justice Coghlin has adhered to the judgment in the trial findings of Mr Justice Hart, who recommended a 12-year sentence.

“The sentence already had 50% remission, so it was really only a six year sentence. I suppose it brings one chapter in the process to a close.”

Mr McCauley added: “We are hopeful the PSNI will make progress sooner, rather than later.

After the case was highlighted by the BBC Spotlight programme in March this year, three men were arrested in May and one in his 20s was arrested in July. All were released on police bail pending further inquiries.

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