Belfast Telegraph

Anger over petrol bomb attack on Banbridge home of vulnerable man

By Claire Williamson

A vulnerable man whose home was targeted in a petrol bomb attack in a case of mistaken identity has vowed he won't be put out of his house.

William Henning (39) escaped injury in what police have described as a "sickening" attack in Banbridge.

It happened at Hillview Terrace at around 5.30am yesterday.

Officers said William woke to the sound of his upstairs window smashing.

In a social media post, the PSNI said this was "immediately followed by a petrol bomb, thrown at the hole in the now broken window".

However, officers said that "thankfully, the disgusting creature who threw it missed, and it set alight against the outside of the window and the windowsill below".

A passing taxi driver raised the alarm and emergency services were quickly on the scene.

William's father Evan told of his relief that his son wasn't injured - but said the family have experienced a roller-coaster of emotions as they come to terms with what happened.

"We were very shocked to get the phone call in the morning; it's not something you are expecting," he said.

"You feel very angry that somebody would do that on such a vulnerable person.

"When we did get the police report it was mistaken identity. Although that takes a lot of the heat out of the situation, it doesn't make it any more excusable. It shouldn't have happened in the first place, no matter who the target was, it's not the way you deal with things.

"We have come to terms with it and we are just so thankful that he wasn't hurt and that he's still with us.

"We hope whoever has been involved in it is brought to justice, because those type of people, they don't have anything to offer anyone."

Evan said his son, who has severe learning difficulties, was left traumatised but has come around to understanding that he was not the intended target.

"He has such support behind him, basically the whole of Banbridge, he'd be a very well-known figure in the town and a lot of people would watch out for him."

He'll be staying with his parents until the damage is repaired, but he is determined to get back to living independently.

"He's with us at the moment," Evan said. "We'll be looking after him for the next couple of days until we get the house back to some sort of normality.

"He will go back. He said: 'I'll be back, I want to go back again, they aren't going to put me out'.

"It's entirely his choice what he wants to do."

The family hope to make William's house more secure following the incident.

"We will be pushing for a wee bit more security," his father said.

"He wants to live on his own and he still wants to do it.

"We've told him to stay with us for a night or two and when everything has settled down, then we can make a better decision on what he does.

"Although he's living on his own, he does need a lot of support.

"It might never happen again, but it would be nice that he had a little bit of protection, especially at night."

PSNI officers have appealed for anyone with information to come forward, as they said the outcome could have been much worse.

"Whoever carried out this horrific attempt on an innocent life should have nowhere to hide," the PSNI said.

"If they had been slightly more accurate with their second throw, literally inches to one side, we could be dealing with a murder scene this morning. Help us find them."

Officers made a specific appeal about a small dark car that was seen making off from the area and have urged anyone who may have witnessed anything or who could have dash cam footage to contact them on 101.

DUP MLA Carla Lockhart said she was shocked and angered by what had happened to a popular figure in Banbridge.

She said: "The young man was a vulnerable young adult with learning difficulties and someone who is known and loved throughout the area.

"It is vital that anyone with any information comes forward and reports it to the PSNI."

Belfast Telegraph

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