A police officer had to drive an ambulance carrying a fatally wounded teenager to hospital while paramedics fought to save his life in the back, it has been claimed.
Two people are to appear in court today charged with the knife attack on Paul Owens (18), who died at the weekend.
He was killed in front of horrified witnesses in Newcastle, Co Down, in the early hours of Saturday morning.
A 26-year-old man was charged with murder and a 20-year-old woman with assisting an offender. Both are to appear at Downpatrick Magistrates Court this morning.
Down District SDLP councillor Eamonn O’Neill last night claimed a police officer was required to drive the 14-mile distance from Newcastle to Downe Hospital as the paramedics worked to try to save the victim.
Mr O'Neill — who is the Chairman of the Downe Hospital Task Force — said the incident put “into terrible context plans to axe the accident and emergency facility at Downpatrick Hospital”.
He added: “It means that if a similar dreadful circumstance arose the ambulance would have to be driven to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald.”
The teenager had survived another stabbing just last summer.
Tributes from friends on social networking site Facebook displayed a collage of photos showing his previous horrific stab wounds.
Police launched a murder inquiry after the teenager died in hospital from the attack.
He was first set upon at Donard Park in the seaside town but ran to the Bryansford Road where his assailants slashed his throat outside the Anchor Bar shortly after 1am.
He was attacked by a number of people who jumped out of a passing van and was stabbed at least three times.
A 29-year-old man who had been questioned about the killing was released unconditionally yesterday.
SDLP councillor Carmel O'Boyle, who taught the teenager at St Malachy’s High School in Castlewellan, described him as shy and as a gifted soccer player.
“He was the most unlikely victim of such a stabbing,” she said.
“He was a lovely boy. He was a shy, self-conscious boy who played football locally for Tollymore. He was a gifted soccer player.”
Police said they are keeping an open mind on a motive. Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0845 600 8000 or on Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.
Part of Bryansford Road and Donard Park in the town were closed at the weekend as police investigated the murder.