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Dungiven man is hit with hammers after racists smash down his door

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Mark Piff who was assaulted by three men in Dungiven

Mark Piff who was assaulted by three men in Dungiven

Mark Piff who was assaulted by three men in Dungiven

A man has described his fear after being brutally beaten in what police described as a racially-motivated attack.

Mark Piff was asleep in bed at his flat in Dungiven, Co Londonderry, early yesterday morning when he was awoken by the noise of his front door being forced in.

He was then confronted in his bedroom by three masked men who beat him with hammers and with other heavy implements.

Mr Piff (46), who moved to Dungiven last January, said it was the third and most serious incident of racist abuse he has been subjected to in the town.

He said: "My great grandfather was Moroccan and I have his colouring in my genes.

"I was brought up in Bradford and moved to Derry in 1994 and in all my time in Derry, I never once experienced any sort of racist abuse. I'm not saying Dungiven is a racist town. Most of the people I know here are lovely, helpful people, but there seems to be a small core of racists here."

Mr Piff recalled other incidents of being verbally abused.

He added: "I was once confronted in a bar when I was there with my girlfriend and one of a group of youths said to me, 'What are you doing with a white girl'?

"I've also been called a P*** when walking on the street.

"It's obvious they were watching my flat because at other nights, I've had friends or family members staying overnight. This night, I was on my own. They beat me with hammers and but for the fact that I was able to use a quilt to absorb the blows, my injuries would have been a lot worse."

Mr Piff said he was hit on the collar bone, on the back, on the head and on the legs.

"I still have concussion, I have lots of bruises and because of ligament damage to my right leg I can only walk with the assistance of a crutch," he added.

"I work for a local utilities company in Dungiven and I've had to tell my boss that I'll be off work for some time.

"They're bullies, but now I'm too scared to return to my flat in Dungiven, so I'm back in Derry staying with friends."

The detective investigating the incident described it as a vicious attack on a defenceless man.

Detective Inspector Peter McKenna said Mr Piff sustained multiple injuries.

"It was reported that shortly before midnight on Thursday, three men armed with a hammer and with other weapons forced entry into an upstairs flat in Main Street, Dungiven and attacked the male occupant as he lay in bed.

"The attackers were described as white males aged in their mid twenties with local accents and all three had their faces covered.

"We are treating the incident at this time as a racially motivated hate crime."

Sinn Fein councillor Sean McGlinchey has said there can be no place for racism of any kind in society. "The local community has been stunned by reports of this attack. I would call on anyone with information on this incident to bring it forward to the PSNI."

Belfast Telegraph