Belfast Telegraph

Rescuer of gang attack victim hits out over policing

By Adrian Rutherford

A woman who went to the aid of a young man being viciously attacked by a sectarian gang outside a PSNI station has criticised the lack of police cover in the area.

The victim was beaten, punched and kicked by the mob during the hate-filled assault on Saturday night.

The woman claims she was forced to put her own safety at risk to help him because there were no PSNI officers about — even though the assault occurred just yards from Woodbourne police station in west Belfast.

She is angry that police were seemingly unprepared for such an attack at the well-known interface on St Patrick’s Day.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said she now intends to make a complaint to the Police Ombudsman.

“I’m disgusted — I can’t believe that in an area like this on St Patrick’s Night there wasn’t one police car to be seen,” she said.

“I was petrified. I have never seen such hatred in anyone’s face as the people attacking him.”

The woman was returning home to the Helens Wood area around 10.15pm when she spotted the attack taking place. She described how the victim was being brutally beaten as he lay on the ground opposite the station station.

She sounded the horn to scare the culprits away, but they continued to attack the young man.

The woman said she had no choice but to get out and intervene.

“What annoyed me was I put my life at risk getting out to help this young fella,” she added.

“They ran off and I got him into the car. He was really terribly upset and shaking. It was just horrendous.

“All he was doing was coming home from St Patrick’s Day.

“He told me they (the culprits) were Protestants from Blacks Road. It was a sectarian attack.”

The woman drove him away and helped find his friend, who had been chased away by the gang.

“He said he would be okay so I dropped him off,” she added.

She is angry at the lack of officers in the area — and confirmed she will make a complaint to the Police Ombudsman. “The fact that it was outside Woodbourne police station, on the main road, and yet there was not one officer in sight — it makes me so angry,” she added.

“Come July 12 you will see hundreds of police about. Yet there wasn’t even one car to act as a deterrent at this flashpoint on Saturday.

“I believe the police have been very negligent.”

A PSNI spokesman said they had not received a complaint about the assault, and asked anyone with information to come forward.

“Over the course of the last two years the Police Service of Northern Ireland sought to increase the number of police officers on the ground by moving officers from desk-based roles to frontline policing,” he said.

“As a result of this process, 90 officers have been placed into frontline policing roles in north and west Belfast.

“Additional officers have been placed in neighbourhood policing teams to improve their capacity, and ultimately enhance community safety.”

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