Children cling to dad as he's beaten by dissident gang
The victim of a brutal paramilitary-style beating has branded his attackers "cowards".
Dissident republicans are being blamed for the attack on Gerald Lavey (30) in Londonderry on Monday.
He's been left with serious injuries to his head, arms and legs and required surgery.
Speaking from hospital, Mr Lavey said his children clung to him during the attack by up to six men at his home at Ballymagowan Avenue in Creggan.
He said the gang dragged him from his living room to the front garden where he was beaten with iron bars with nails attached.
Several hours after the attack, a wheelie bin was set alight next to the house.
"Any other night I would normally lock the door and put the keys out of reach so nobody could break the glass," Mr Lavey said.
"But the 'weans' didn't lock the door and the next thing we heard was footsteps coming up the stairs and I just knew then that's what it was.
"They were dragging me down the stairs into the garden and started battering me with iron bars. Just before, my wee girl clung onto me when she saw them and they just pulled her off me."
Mr Lavey said he feared for his daughter, aged nine, and his five-year-old son. He said: "It's terrible, I don't think they should have had to witness anything at all. They were squealing.
"I was lying on the garden and they were just welting into me with iron bars with nails on them.
"While I was in the front garden getting battered, they were smashing up the house. One of them said 'that's enough, that's enough' but the last boy out had to hit me five or six slaps more and then they ran off down the street." He said the gang mentioned drugs during the attack. "They were shouting about coke but I don't take any sort of drugs. I'm addicted to prescribed medication and that's it. I don't bother anybody I just keep myself to myself. Cowards. They had to all come in masks and iron bars and it took five or six of them."
Chief Inspector Tony Callaghan condemned the attack and said he suspected dissident republican involvement. He said: "Those who are involved in paramilitary-style attacks do not represent the interests of any community nor contribute anything to it.
"Communities have a choice, and it is clear that the vast majority of people here have chosen to support the police and support law and order."
Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said community support was key to getting successful convictions. "We understand the reasons, people are frightened, people feel intimidated, but without co-operation, it makes a prosecution virtually impossible," he said.