Belfast Telegraph

Belfast City Council workers replace Joseph's stolen wheelchair

BY JOANNE SWEENEY

Council workers have come to the aid of a brave youngster who had his wheelchair stolen.

Belfast City Council's waste management team pulled out all the stops to find a replacement wheelchair for nine-year-old Joseph McDermott – after it disposed of his stolen chair which had been dumped at Albert Street.

Joseph was left in a wheelchair after being knocked down and critically injured on January 29 on the Grosvenor Road in a hit-and-run while walking home from a shop.

That wheelchair was taken by thieves from outside the home of the Cliftonville FC-mad youngster last week.

But now the west Belfast boy has a choice of two temporary wheelchairs found by council workers in local recycling centres.

One of the wheelchairs was left up to his home yesterday afternoon by workers after news broke of the theft.

A council spokesman said: "One way or another we were determined to try and put this right for the young lad.

"Our street cleansing team who disposed of the wheelchair were only doing their job, as the wheelchair had just been dumped over last weekend."

Joseph suffered a broken neck, jaw, pelvis, arms and legs as well as fractured ribs and ankles.

His mother Joanne (30) said: "Joseph has a 13mm gap in his neck so it's important that he doesn't fall over or do anything to make that worse. Having his specially adapted wheelchair meant we could get him out and about without worrying.

"The men were only doing their job. I hold no grudges."

Joanne, describing her son as being remarkably upbeat, added: "He never really lets it get him down. He just takes it all in his stride, he's a very sensible and happy wee boy."

STORY SO FAR

Joseph McDermott was seriously injured in a hit-and-run incident on the Grosvenor Road on January 29. He suffered a broken neck, jaw, pelvis, arms and legs as well as fractured ribs and ankles. Despite making a remarkable recovery, he still faces a difficult time ahead. Police have not yet brought any charges in the "ongoing investigation".

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