Belfast Telegraph

Man battered with hammer and left for dead beside Kilkeel police station feels 'so let down'

By Allan Preston

A pensioner who was beaten and robbed by hammer-wielding thugs in March has said he still feels terrified in his own home, despite living yards from a police station.

On March 28, Clifford Mooney (69) awoke in his terraced home in the Slieveshan Park area of Kilkeel to find three men in his bedroom.

In the sadistic attack, he was beaten five times on the head with a hammer, had a towel shoved down his throat and a belt tied around his neck.

He pleaded with the thugs: "Take what you want, just don't hurt me."

The thieves also made off with a large sum of his money, leaving the disabled pensioner for dead.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph in his home yesterday, Mr Mooney said he felt let down by police, frequently feels too afraid to sleep and said he often passes his attackers on the street.

In a statement yesterday, police confirmed that on April 4: "Three males aged 22, 24 and 25 were arrested in relation to an aggravated burglary that occurred at an address in the Slieveshan Park area of Kilkeel at around midnight on Tuesday, March 28." Police say a guardian alarm, or panic button, was also installed in his home following the incident.

All three men have since been released on police bail pending ongoing enquiries.

"If I hear any noise at all at night now, I think it's maybe somebody coming up my stairs," said Mr Mooney. "I'll try to get back to sleep but the attack is on my mind again and I'll be up then most of the night."

"I definitely know who it was, they weren't wearing masks and I gave full descriptions, but the police say they can go no further because they have no finger prints and the men arrested have an alibi."

"Since then, they've got their hair cut. One has shaved his moustache and the other has grown one.

"One of them actually lives across the road there.

"I see them on the street and I just turn my head away, I wouldn't want to be talking to them or seeing them because of what happened." He recalled the night of the mindless assault, which left him hospitalised and unable to eat due to bruising on his throat.

"I came home from a prayer meeting and said cheerio to my mates at my gate. I came in to make tea, but just decided to go to bed," he said.

"I turned on the TV but there was nothing on, so I fell asleep. The next thing I know these three ones pounced on top of me on the bed. One fella had big frizzy hair, the other was tall and thin and one of them was a stoutish build.

"Then they left me in the bed after hitting me with a hammer five times in the head. They didn't check if I was alive or dead, they just left with what they had."

Mr Mooney said there was no forced entry to his home that night. "They didn't break the door, they must have had a skeleton key of some sort. It's a mystery to me how they even got in," he said.

Stepping outside his house, a 20-second walk is all it takes for Mr Mooney to reach Kilkeel police station, which boasts a towering mast with numerous surveillance cameras.

"Living beside the police station you think you would be safe, wouldn't you?" he said, looking across the street.

"I'm a few yards away with so many cameras, but what good are they doing?"

"I feel they've let me down and I don't believe there was a massive search for them at the time. I would say they're not really doing a very good job when they know these people are at large. With the descriptions I gave them, I'm sure they know who they are. But what have they done, apart from arrest them and let them go again?"

He continued: "I feel they could have at least made the effort to search their houses to see if there was any money in there and ask where did they get it?"

Mr Mooney said the attack has left him in constant fear for his safety.

"I don't know what to do really. I don't want to let them put me out of my house and even if I did leave, they'd find out where I am." My neighbours and friends aren't very happy this has happened, but what can they do?

"If the police who are paid to help people can't do anything about it, then what can they do to stop it happening?"

Addressing his attackers, he said: "All I would say to the people who did this is, 'come forward, admit what you've done.'

He said many people in the area were scared to speak out.

"Nobody really wants to get too involved, as they think of their own place too. People would ask me how I'm doing, but they don't want to inform on the ones that did it.

"Somebody's bound to know who did it, they're somebody's child and why do they not admit who did it?"

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