Driver who foiled raid on his lorry left mangled by the thieves' getaway car
A father-of-six could have been killed when callous thieves dragged him along the road in their getaway car after he challenged them as they tried to break into his lorry.
Adrian McLaughlin, who had just left the wake of a family friend, sustained severe injuries after he was crushed between the robbers' car and one travelling in the opposite direction.
He was thrown into the middle of the road near Bridgend in Co Donegal.
The 53-year-old lorry driver from Dungiven underwent hours of surgery in Altnagelvin Hospital to repair his badly broken body.
Mr McLaughlin's brother Nigel told the Belfast Telegraph that the thugs, who drove off with no thought as to whether they had killed Adrian, were "degenerates" with nothing to offer society.
He said: "I cannot describe how I felt when I took that phone call to say Adrian had been in a bad accident. My wife and I went to Adrian's house to tell his wife because we didn't want her to get that kind of news down the phone.
"He is in a stable condition now but he was in theatre for several hours yesterday because both his legs are badly broken and he has injuries to his chest and pelvis.
"The children are in a bad way. Two of them are in Australia and it is especially hard for them being so far away."
Nigel said Adrian was totally dedicated to his family, and worked long, hard hours doing his very best for them.
"We are thankful that there was a priest and a doctor in the wake house at the time," said the devastated brother.
Those at the scene were left in a state of shock as they saw Mr McLaughlin being dragged along, caught half in and half out of the thieves' Mercedes A Class car.
Among the eyewitnesses was Peter McLaughlin, the mayor of Buncrana. He said: "As I was driving down the road from Derry I noticed that there seemed to be some kind of commotion at the back of a lorry. I heard a loud bang and when I looked in my rear view mirror I could see the man lying on the middle of the road. I immediately rang the ambulance and went over to the man."
The thieves' car was driven into Derry and later found burnt-out in the Steelstown area of the city.
Garda Superintendent Eugene McGovern said: "We have CCTV footage of this vehicle from a filling station in Muff. The same car, registration number TUI 8753, was later found burned out on the Steelstown Road in Derry at 9.55pm.
"The car had not been reported stolen and we are appealing to anyone with information to contact us at Buncrana Garda station."
"A doctor and nurse who happened to be at the wake were treating him – talking to him and trying to keep him awake until the ambulance came – but it was clear that he was in extreme pain and badly hurt. It was a shocking sight to see and I couldn't sleep the entire night because every time I closed my eyes I could picture him lying there."
Buncrana mayor Peter McLaughlin