A man aged 43 was left fighting for life after he and a friend were attacked and left in a pool of blood on a night out.
The men were making their way home having been out on St Patrick’s Day when they were set upon in Newtownabbey and struck by what is believed to have been a baseball bat.
Both were hospitalised as a result of the attack, which took place on the Carnmoney Road close to Coolehill Park at around 1am yesterday.
It is thought the attack happened after the men were caught up in an altercation close to a fast food outlet.
One victim was discharged but the other man remained critical in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital last night having sustained serious head injuries. Police said the attacker — said to be in his 40s — may have been armed with a baseball bat. The incident is not believed to have been sectarian.
Robert Hill, chairman of the policing and community safety partnership in Newtownabbey, said he understood an altercation took place involving both men before the attack.
He said police were examining CCTV images from the area in an effort to identify the attacker.
“It’s horrific that you can go for a night out and end up in a serious condition in hospital,” said Mr Hill, who is also a DUP councillor. “It’s a sorry state of affairs. Somebody had to go and collect that from somewhere to come after these people, and that is very worrying. It has been pretty bad. We've had a lot of bomb alerts, the attack on police last week, so there's been a lot of unrest.”
DUP MLA Paul Girvan visited the scene of the attack yesterday.
He described the reported use of a baseball bat as “worrying” and added: “There is a very clear indication that this attack is not deemed to be sectarian. I totally condemn this incident. There is no justification.”
Alliance councillor John Blair said the area in which the assaults took place is quiet, with many residents having lived there for generations. Mr Blair said: “I have spoken to police and would urge anyone with any information about this assault to forward it to the PSNI.”
Meanwhile, another man sustained serious head injuries in a separate attack outside a licensed premises on the Antrim Road in Belfast.
And a 31-year-old man sustained facial injuries and required hospital treatment after he was assaulted in licensed premises in the Donegall Street area of the city. The incident was reported to police at 12.15am yesterday. His attacker is described as being 5ft 6ins tall, of slim build, in his early 20s and with short, dark hair.
He was in the company of two other men who were around 6ft tall.