Paul McCauley dies after being beaten by loyalist thugs in 2006 sectarian attack in Waterside, Derry
PSNI launch murder probe
The PSNI has launched a murder investigation after Derry man Paul McCauley, who was left in a vegetative state after an unprovoked loyalist gang attack in 2006, died in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Mr McCauley passed away in a care unit in Londonderry surrounded by family and friends.
The civil servant was 30 when he was attacked by a loyalist mob at a barbecue in the Waterside in Derry. A gang of up to 15 people were thought to have been involved in the attack.
He never regained consciousness.
Following the death of Mr McCauley the PSNI confirmed it has launched a murder investigation.
Senior Investigating Officer DCI Michael Harvey said in statement: "On behalf of the entire police family, I want to extend our deepest sympathies to the McCauley family following Paul’s death. They have conducted themselves with great dignity over the past almost nine years since the vicious attack on Paul and his friends. The love and care they gave to Paul have been a beacon of light in a tragically dark set of circumstances.
"Nothing we can say will ease the pain which the family is enduring at this sad time. I have only recently assumed responsibility for the investigation but I know I speak for everyone in the Major Investigation Team, previous senior investigating officers and colleagues in District police when I offer the McCauley family our heartfelt condolences. They have been a compelling voice on Paul’s behalf, a voice with dignity, energy and compassion.
DCI Harvey added: "Paul was an innocent victim of an unprovoked sectarian assault. Our Chief Constable said last year he was sorry that more people had not been brought to justice than the one individual who was convicted and sentenced.
"In memory of Paul, for the McCauley family and in the interests of justice, police stand ready to explore any opportunities provided either by a change in circumstances or a qualm of conscience. The investigation remains open and detectives are committed to bringing those responsible to justice."
The PSNI said they are keen to hear from anyone who believes they may be able to assist with the enquiry.
SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan also offered his condolences.
He said: "I would like to express my sympathy for and solidarity with the McCauley family at this time. They have endured a torrid nine years watching their son suffer in a manner few of us can imagine. Their pain has been compounded by the failure to see justice done.
"All but one of the perpetrators of this sickening sectarian crime have evaded the law. Today may not be the time to dwell on the shortcomings of the police investigation into this incident but we must get behind the McCauley family in their campaign to see justice for Paul.
"I was at school with Paul and know what a gentle being he was That his life has been destroyed and that those responsible are still walking the streets is very difficult to take."
The only person convicted in connection with the brutal attack is Daryl Proctor.
He was jailed for 12 years in 2009 after pleading guilty to a charge of grievous bodily harm with intent.
Proctor was released in February this year.
Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson said: "I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family, his parents Jim and Cathy, his daughter Maeve, and all his family and friends.
"The fact is that up to 15 people were involved in the attempt to murder Paul and his friends, and their identities are well known in their community.
"There is an onus on everyone, particularly elected representatives, to encourage those with information about the attack to come forward so that those responsible can be brought to justice."
Last year Mr McCauley's father Jim told the Belfast Telegraph that he did not think Proctor should have been released early from prison because he has consistently refused to divulge the names of his cohorts.
His father said that he was convinced that a request by Proctor to meet him was a cynical move to impress an appeals board.
He said: "Proctor has never shown any remorse for what he did to Paul nor has he helped the police with the investigation, which is why I think he does not deserve early release.
"Three months before his appeal hearing in October 2009 the police told me Proctor had requested a meeting with me but not my wife Cathy, which I thought strange at the time.
"Even though the thought of meeting him filled me with revulsion, I agreed because I would do anything to further the investigation.
"That meeting never actually went ahead because Proctor pulled the plug on it, which has convinced me the entire thing was a ploy to impress the appeal judges and make him look good."
His father also said that he knew his son would die before the rest of the thugs that attacked him were brought to justice.
"My son has never spoken a word since the night he was attacked. A large section of his skull was so badly damaged it couldn't be saved and there is nothing between that part of Paul's brain and the outside world except a flap of skin.
"Paul's injuries were so horrific and caused so much damage the doctors told us at the time his life expectancy has been reduced to between 10 and 15 years.
"The fact is we face the very real possibility that our son could die anytime and a dozen or so people who did that to him will never be put in the dock.
"But what makes it so much more difficult is that the police have said publicly that they know the names of those who carried out the attack on my son, but they need the help of their community to bring them to justice."
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison, who previously lead the investigation, said he was convinced there are people from Irish Street, Clooney, Lincoln Courts and the Fountain areas who had the information he needed to bring the thugs to justice.
Anyone with information is asked to call the PSNI on 101. Alternatively, information can be passed on anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on freephone 0800 555 111.
Paul McCauley was celebrating with friends at a barbecue near his home in the Chapel Road area of the Waterside when they were attacked by the sectarian gang. The attack on Mr McCauley happened at around 3.40am on July 16, 2006, when a group of men burst into the back garden of the house.
They were set upon by the gang of around 15 people as they sat chatting around a small fire after the barbecue. Mr McCauley's beating was so severe he 'died' twice from his injuries and had to be resuscitated.
His friend who suffers from a disability, sustained serious injuries including a broken jaw, while the third escaped with minor injuries.
His attackers are believed to have made their way to or from the Bann Drive/Irish Street direction.
To date there has only been a single conviction in relation to the attack on McCauley, that of Daryl Proctor, (20) from the Fountain area of Derry who, in 2009 was given a 12-year term for grievous bodily harm.
From the archives: ‘I still cry sometimes... little things set you off'
BY BRENDAN MCDAID – 10 July 2010
Paul McCauley’s father Jim dropped his son off at his friend’s home on a summer’s evening in July 2006, little knowing that within hours his family would be forever changed by the scourge of sectarian hatred.
Paul was attending a farewell party of his friend on Chapel Road, when he and two friends, Gavin Mullin and Mark Lynch, were set upon by around 10 men as they stood around a bonfire in the early hours of July 16.
Father-of-one Paul, then 30, was kicked to the ground and his head was repeatedly stamped on. One of his friends, who is disabled, suffered a broken jaw while the other was treated in hospital for cuts and bruises.
The gang approached from a nearby loyalist estate and the totally unprovoked attack was later linked to the UDA by the Independent Monitoring Commission.
Now, four years on, Jim and his wife Cathy spend around five hours a day at the beside of their eldest child on a rota basis at a specialist brain injury unit attached to Altnagelvin Hospital.
“I still cry sometimes,” Mr McCauley said. “Little things can set you off. Increasingly you begin to accept the situation but you never give up hope. Paul’s condition remains unchanged. He is technically, medically what they call in a minimally responsive state.
“He is immobile with no communication.
“The lack of communications is a big frustration. We don’t know where he is chronologically. We don’t know if he knows we are his parents. It is been traumatic for everybody, Paul’s friends who were attacked and the wider family circle.”
In his hospital room surrounded by family photographs, his family keep Paul company in the hope that one day their prayers will be answered and they will get some sign from their son.
It has been a horrific ordeal for the couple and their other three children. Before Paul was transferred to Altnagelvin two years ago, for seven months his family had to travel to Belfast every day as he was being cared for in the brain injury unit at Musgrave.
A former student of St Columb’s College in Derry, Paul worked as a civil servant and was studying for an Open University degree in computers.
Speaking about the time since the attack, Jim says: “It has been a long four years and in other respects it is hard to believe it has been four years since that night I left Paul at the barbecue. He walked up the lane to his friend’s house and it seems just like yesterday. We just said cheerio. That’s the last memory of the old Paul.”
Mr McCauley said his family were now holding on to the hope that those who wreaked havoc on his son’s life are put behind bars.
“It won’t help Paul but it will help carry us if those who carried it out are brought to justice,” he said.
He also said he and his family had watched with “great concern and disappointment” a series of recent cases where people who stamped on their victims’ heads during attacks were awarded short jail terms or even suspended sentences.