A teenager with autism who was viciously attacked in Lisburn may have been seeking refuge at a drop-in centre when he was kicked repeatedly about the head and face, a pastor has said.
Scott Vineer has been fighting for his life in hospital since he was discovered lying unconscious in the grounds of a disused furniture showroom, 24 hours after being reported missing by his distraught mother.
Pastor Nick Serb, who has been visiting the 17-year-old in hospital and supporting his family, said he was horrified when he first heard what had happened to Scott.
“When I went to the hospital I was just horrified by what had happened. I couldn’t believe it was Scott,” Pastor Serb said.
“He is such a friendly and good person. It was hard to see this young boy, who has always had such a big presence, lying so helpless. His family is so very upset.”
Scott had befriended the Romanian minister after attending a drop-in-centre in the town, which is in the general area where he was discovered by a police dog handler on Friday night. Pastor Serb said it was possible Scott was seeking refuge from his attackers.
“He was found in the area of the unit we were using. It is very hard to know what happened that day and why he was in that area,” he said.
“Maybe he was looking for refuge at the centre; it is hard to know.
“At the drop-in we have all sorts of young people but Scott has always been nice and courteous. I just can’t believe people would have done this to him.
“People would have known he was autistic and vulnerable, to cause him so much harm is just sickening.”
He added: “There has been a lot of support for Scott and his family. It is amazing the amount of support.
“The people are really behind the family, but that doesn’t make this any easier for them.”
Scott went missing after leaving the South Eastern Regional College in Lisburn shortly after 3pm on Thursday.
He is training in work-related skills and attends a job club run by the learning disability charity Mencap.
When he failed to return home on Thursday evening his mother contacted police at 10pm. An extensive search operation was launched and he was eventually found at 9pm the following night.
Police are desperately trying to piece together what happened to the teenager during the 30-hour period between leaving college and being found unconscious with serious head and face injuries.
Chief Inspector Darrin Jones said it was a “brutal and senseless attack on a vulnerable young man”.
Scott Vineer (17), who is autistic, was yesterday still in a critical condition after he was repeatedly kicked in the head during a vicious attack in Lisburn.
The teenager went missing shortly after leaving college on Thursday afternoon.
He was found lying unconscious close to a towpath at 9pm the following night. So far police have been unable to establish a motive for the attack and have appealed for anyone who may have seen Scott last Thursday or Friday to contact them.