Belfast Telegraph

Beaten Catholic teenager left for dead after sectarian attack

By Matthew Symington

A Catholic teenager was left for dead after he was beaten by sectarian thugs as he left a film set in Belfast.

James Turley, 18, was working as an extra for the movie when he was attacked and dumped semi-conscious into a wheelie bin as he heard one of the attackers declare: "That's enough. I think he's dead."

The teenager was confronted by a mob in the loyalist Village area of the city where a production team had just finished filming a scene for a movie, The Good Man, starring The Wire's Aidan Gillen.

Four other friends who were with him had also been taking part in the film.

A gang surrounded their car, pulling off a wing mirror and smashing a window. They then made a run for it, but James, a trainee chef from the Catholic Short Strand area on the far side of the city, was caught. At one stage he tried to hide in a nearby house, calling on the family: "Please help me. They're going to kill me."

James told the Irish News newspaper he could hear one of the chasing gang shouting: "There's a Taig in there."

He added: "They all just came in and started beating me."

He said. "They stamped on my head and everywhere. The woman (the householder) said: 'Get him out of my garden' and they dragged me out into the alley.

"They just started beating me again. They put me in a bin and were pushing me somewhere. I didn't know where I was going ... when I got put in the bin I thought that was it.

"I think they realised they couldn't beat me when I was in the bin. They kicked or pushed it over and dragged me out of it."

The teenager said at one point he was knocked out, but "I started to come around and then I heard them saying: 'That's enough. I think he's dead'."

Later he managed to flag down a passing motorist who drove him to Royal Victoria Hospital, less than a mile away. His mother Donna, whose husband Frank was murdered in 1998, said she thought her son had been killed. She went to her son's bedside last Friday.

She said: "It's like deja vu. I can't remember getting to the hospital. I just kept thinking: 'Please, please, just let him hang on for me'."

Film producer Susan Picken, said that everything had been done to ensure the safety of the cast and crew. She added: "We did have a lot of crew who were looking after them, and we were basing ourselves out of a local community centre, we had liaised in advance with the local community, we were safe in our own minds that we had done enough to look after everybody."

Bob Stoker, an Ulster Unionist councillor, said the attack was absolutely despicable He said: "I think it is nothing short of wanton thuggery and these people have to be dealt with by the community, by the police and by the court system.

"They are in no way representative of this community. We need people to stand up and have the courage to say, 'I saw them doing it and I'm going to identify them'. The community will be completely in support of anybody who does this."

Belfast Telegraph

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