Police in Londonderry say they know who carried out a vicious sectarian assault on Paul McCauley (35) six years ago — but need added information to secure convictions.
On the sixth anniversary of the attack the officer in charge of the investigation said there are people in loyalist communities in the city who can provide the missing links in the case.
A gang of up to 15 people were thought to have been involved in the attack on Mr McCauley on July 16, 2006 which left him in a permanent vegetative state.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison, who is leading the investigation, said he is convinced there are people from Irish Street, Clooney, Lincoln Courts and the Fountain areas who have the information he needs to bring the thugs to justice.
He said: “We know the people out there who were involved, and there are other people who overheard discussions about the attack but who have never spoken about it. We need them to come forward so we can turn that information into convictions.
“I would appeal to the people who were there that night but who did not take part directly in the attack, and whose consciences may be bothering them, to come forward while it is not too late.
“There are people in Irish Street, the Fountain, Lincoln Courts and Clooney that I know still live in those estates who have information, but who may think we already know what they know, but I would appeal to them to contact us because we would rather hear something twice than not at all,” he said.
“Over the past 12 months we have made a total of 14 arrests, bringing to 25 the arrests since Paul was attacked. We also carried out a number of searches and re-examined forensics and I am convinced the answer lies in these communities.
“I have met Paul McCauley and his family, and I know people have seen the image of Paul, whose body has become a prison.
“I would like people to take a good look at that image and imagine what it would be like if it was their son or brother.
“Paul's family is still waiting for justice, but I have experience of people in the past whose conscience bothers them and even after a long period of time they contact the police with information, and I remain hopeful that will happen in this case.”
Foyle MLA William Hay, who represents the communities named by the police, said people are frightened of paramilitary organisations or individuals.
He added: “Police will have their own reasons for naming these areas, they obviously know who they are looking for, but my concern is that the people living in these communities who do have information and who know who carried out this heinous crime are afraid to speak out. I would ask them to come forward, in spite of their fears.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0845 600 8000. Alternatively, information can be passed on anonymously to charity Crimestoppers on freephone 0800 555 111.
Paul McCauley was celebrating with friends at a barbecue near his home in the Chapel Road area of the Waterside when they were attacked by the sectarian gang. The attack on Mr McCauley happened at around 3.40am on July 16, 2006, when a group of men burst into the back garden of the house.
They were set upon by the gang of around 15 people as they sat chatting around a small fire after the barbecue. Mr McCauley's beating was so severe he 'died' twice from his injuries and had to be resuscitated.
His friend who suffers from a disability, sustained serious injuries including a broken jaw, while the third escaped with minor injuries.
His attackers are believed to have made their way to or from the Bann Drive/Irish Street direction.
To date there has only been a single conviction in relation to the attack on McCauley, that of Daryl Proctor, (20) from the Fountain area of Derry who, in 2009 was given a 12-year term for grievous bodily harm.