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Gun attack terror of Belfast pensioner - 'I didn't know shots were being fired until I was told to hit the floor'

Pensioner tells of lucky escape after sinister gun attack on house

By Angela Rainey

Published 19/07/2016

Vera Smyth looks at the damage caused to her home in the Turf Lodge area of west Belfast after a gun attack early yesterday
Vera Smyth looks at the damage caused to her home in the Turf Lodge area of west Belfast after a gun attack early yesterday

A pensioner who had a lucky escape after shots were fired through her living room window has branded the gunmen behind the attack "scumbags".

Vera Smyth, who has lived at her home on Norglen Parade in Turf Lodge, west Belfast, for 47 years, said she had no idea why she was targeted.

The 70-year-old was in the house with a man and woman at around 1.15am yesterday when it was blasted by bullets that penetrated the double-glazed windows of her living room and front-door frame.

While she was thankful no one was injured, she branded the culprits "scumbags and cowards" and vowed they would not intimidate from her home.

Ms Smyth, who remains shaken by the ordeal, said she did not realise her family was under attack until she was told to take cover from the gunfire.

"I've heard gunshots before, but not like that... not so close," she explained.

"I didn't realise that someone was shooting at us until I was told to hit the floor.

"I was just sat there. At first I didn't really know what was going on, but I got down. I've no idea what this is all about, because I keep myself to myself. Whoever did this are scumbags and cowards."

While Ms Smyth remains traumatised and has been unable to sleep properly since the incident, she vowed she would not be forced from her home.

"I've no idea why anyone would do this, but I won't be moving out," the pensioner said.

"It's my house. Why should I move? I've lived here for 47 years and it's my home. I just don't know why they got at me. I don't bother anyone."

Ms Smyth told how she believed that the people responsible for the attack fired from a car in a drive-by shooting, because the bullets hit her home in random locations, indicating an unsteady line of fire.

She also suggested that the shooters could only have fired directly if they were on foot, because Ms Smyth's home is on a high level and faces a pedestrian walkway that is shielded from the road by railings.

"If they had stood outside the house and did it, it would have been more accurate," she said. "So to me, they have fired from a car and drove off. But at least no one was hurt."

Ms Smyth's house was the second in the area to be fired at in just 24 hours.

Shots were also fired at a house in nearby Tollnamona Court in the early hours of Saturday, but the two incidents are not thought to be connected.

Sinn Fein West Belfast MP Paul Maskey condemned the shooting on Twitter. "These type of attacks need to end immediately," he posted.

A resident who wished to be known only as Ciara said: "This place is getting worse - all we seem to hear about is shots being fired at people's houses and so-called punishment beatings. We were all shocked to hear about this shooting as that wee lady has been there probably longer than anyone else."

Detective Sergeant Keith Wilson added: "We are currently working to establish a motive for this incident, and I would appeal to anyone with any information to contact detectives at Musgrave police station on 101, quoting reference 75 18/07/16.

"Information can also be given anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers."

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