A gang of drunken youths who wreaked havoc on the streets of Sion Mills into the early hours of Wednesday morning have been described as “thugs”.
Following an all day drinking binge at the nearby cricket grounds a mob of around 20 congregated at the Main Street area, blocked the road with safety barriers and started hurling paving stones at passing vehicles including a police car.
One man whose young child was waken by the racket tried to intervene with the mob but was struck on the face with a metal pole.
Local youth worker, Andy Patton was on the scene until the early hours trying restore calm.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Patton the actions of the young people were totally unacceptable.
He said: “The young people had been to the wake of their friend in Ballymoney and landed back here, purchased drink and gathered at the local pitch.
Later into the evening they made the way back into the village and things got really out of hand.
“The pulled safety barriers used by Virgin Media across the street and threw them at vehicles, bricks were thrown at cars but also through shop windows as well.
“A police car on its way to an emergency in Castlederg was also hit. The police got out removed some of the stuff from the road but they had to continue to their emergency.
“One local man whose child was woken up came down to see what was going on and he was assaulted with an iron bar."
Things quietened down around midnight and residents came out and tried to clean Main Street up but then it all kicked off again.
“I waded into the middle of them. I removed an iron bar from one of them and a brick from another but none of them threatened me," Mr Patton said.
"They knew I am a community worker, I didn’t know them but they knew me.
“I have to say what happened on the streets of Sion Mills was totally disgusting, it was totally out of control.
“It was totally unacceptable, if this is their way of honouring their friend who passed away then they need to know it is not acceptable.”
One woman who watched the chaos from inside her home said it was the most frightening thing she had ever seen.
She said: “I was woken from by sleep by the noise and looked out to see what was happening but I actually couldn’t believe my eyes.
“These young fellas, wee thugs, if I am being honest were drunk out of their skulls. They had the road blocked and were throwing big stones at cars.
“They were roaring at the tops of their voices and running around the place like they weren’t wise.
“Some people went outside but I stayed in where I thought it was safe. I have no idea why this happened because this isn’t the kind of thing you see in Sion Mills.”
A spokesman for the PSNI said a number of people had contacted them about the incident.
Chief Inspector Rosemary Thompson said: “We received reports that a group of youths were throwing stones at passing cars in the Church Square and Main Street, Sion Mills.
“Officers attended and spoke to a number of people. Whilst speaking to these youths a number of them alleged that they had been assaulted. A police vehicle was also hit with a number of stones.
“We also received another report that a man in his 30s was treated for facial injuries having been assaulted in the same area.
“Police took the details of the youths present.
“Enquiries into this disturbance and the reported assaults are ongoing.”