Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

I want to flee after second attack, says McDaid friend

Damien Fleming has been attacked by sectarian thugs for a second time
Damien Fleming has been attacked by sectarian thugs for a second time

A man who survived the savage sectarian attack in which community worker Kevin McDaid was killed has told how he wants to flee his home after he was attacked for a second time.

Speaking after being beaten again by loyalist thugs, Coleraine man Damien Fleming, said he wants to leave the area where |sectarian tensions have reached boiling point.

In May, Mr Fleming was left fighting for his life after being |attacked in the Heights area of Coleraine. His friend, 49-year-old father-of-three Kevin McDaid died after he too was targeted by the loyalists who went on the rampage after Rangers won the Scottish Premier League.

On Wednesday, 46-year-old Mr Fleming, who spent weeks in a coma, was set upon by two men at almost exactly the same spot where he was previously left to die.

It is understood the pair pulled up in a car and shouted sectarian abuse before laying into him.

“I can’t handle it. I want out of this place,” he claimed last night.

In the latest beating Mr Fleming suffered a broken nose as well as cuts and bruises to his head and face.

But he and his family have appealed for no reprisals.

“I wasn’t expecting it. I thought that caper was all over with,” he told UTV. “I don’t want any retaliation. I am not into that.”

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last month Mr Fleming claimed he was living in constant fear and suffered terrifying flashbacks.

“I have been trying to settle back home this past month or so but it is very hard. I am always very frightened, every minute I am frightened,” he said.

“I keep having flashbacks of that night and suffer from very bad panic attacks. I have to keep people around me all the time as I just can’t cope on my own.

“Physically I am not that great either.”

Meanwhile, Mr Fleming’s sister, Sophie has reiterated the calls for calm.

“All we want is peace,” she said.

Condemnation of the latest assault has come from politicians on all sides.

East Londonderry MLA John Dallat told the Belfast Telegraph: “Given the horrendous injuries this man had received, this attack could have been fatal and would have plunged Coleraine into yet another state of turmoil which the decent people of the town, in either community, don’t want.”

And Sinn Fein councillor Billy Leonard added: “This is the double insult, a double injury.

“Nobody should be attacked in this way, particularly when it comes to Damien who has been through so much.”

Earlier this week the High Court in Belfast heard that more than 20 people were living under death threats following Kevin McDaid’s killing.

So far, 11 people have been charged in connection with the murder and attempted murder.

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