Belfast boy (14) badly beaten in sectarian attack during night of violence
A 14-year-old boy was left in hospital with a fractured skull after being badly beaten in a sectarian attack in Belfast in a weekend of disorder.
Trouble flared in pockets in the north and west of the city on Saturday night with police coming under attack, property damaged and in one incident traffic lights set on fire and the riot squad deployed.
Police were also set upon by a mob as they tried to arrest a teenager, leaving one officer with injuries.
Robert Holmes was making his way home from a supermarket with friends at around 7pm on Saturday when he was approached by a group of up to 30 people in North Queen Street.
His family said he was beaten with bats and hammers by around seven of the group while the baying crowd watched on.
The boy was only able to limp off to his brother's house after a family friend intervened.
His brother said he came through the door before collapsing over a table and then began convulsing.
"There was blood everywhere - it was shocking," his brother Curtis said.
He was taken to hospital where last night he remained recuperating with a fractured skull, bruising on the brain and with stitches in his head.
He had also suffered hearing loss and the full extent of his injuries will likely not become clear until the swelling subsidies.
Doctors described his condition as not life-threatening.
"He was very lucky," continued his brother. "He tried to stand up in hospital and was so dizzy he fell over."
Police are treating the attack as sectarian.
"We're from Tiger's Bay and they were all from the New Lodge," his brother added.
"My brother is very lucky but only when the family friend actually went toward this gang did they stop and let him go."
Later, as police responded to trouble in the New Lodge, they came under attack with one of their cars damaged.
Police believe the two incidents are linked.
DUP MLA William Humphrey (left), said he would be meeting with police today to raise the issue and the recent spate of anti-social behaviour in the area.
"I'd wish young Robert a speedy recovery first and foremost," he said.
"Yorkgate and the area around it is a facility for the entire community, and those using it should feel safe.
"I condemn any attack on police. They were there to ensure law and order was maintained and it is appalling people attack them in these circumstances.
"I would urge anyone with information to contact the police and also urge parents to know where their children are and what they are up to."
Meanwhile in west Belfast, youths set fire to traffic lights and threw masonry at police and their vehicles during a riot on the Stewartstown Road. Later when police attempted to arrest a teenager they were set upon by a mob who tried to free the youth.
One officer received cuts and bruising to his face.
The 17-year-old male remained in police custody last night for questioning on suspicion of riotous behaviour, attempted criminal damage and assaulting police.
Sinn Fein councillor Stephen Magennis branded the behaviour a disgrace saying young children and others well into their teens were involved. He said: "This has been going on nightly since St Patrick's Day and needs brought under control."
Police are investigating and appealed to children to stay clear of trouble and for their parents to talk to them about the consequences of getting a criminal record.