Two held over hammer attack on Newry man who fell off first-floor balcony
A man has been left seriously injured in hospital after being attacked with a hammer during a house party that got out of control in a quiet residential area of Newry.
An eyewitness said the man also fell from a first-floor balcony during the attack.
The 26-year-old is being treated for his injuries at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
A resident who witnessed the incident, which happened in Cleary Crescent in the city around 12.20am yesterday, said police had already been to the location twice during the course of the evening before the attack happened.
"Police were aware a drunken party was going on. This is a quiet area where a lot of pensioners live and we shouldn't have to put up with this," he said.
"But police have questions to answer. They had already visited the area twice earlier in the night and would have received six or seven calls from local residents about the party.
"We had young men in bare feet, stripped to the waist and drinking in front of the house for a few hours.
"When police knew this was going on, why did they not put a stop to it there and then? Instead they went away.
"When they came back a second time, I heard one person in the house shout out of the window, 'Is this antisocial enough for you?' But again police went away without doing anything to stop the disturbances. Residents in the area were frightened."
He said the party had been going on "for a good few hours before it really kicked off just before midnight".
"I heard someone shout something like 'You hit my girlfriend' then two men started attacking another man standing on the balcony," the man added.
"They laid into him for a good five or six minutes before a third man joined in.
"They really battered him - it was horrible to watch. I was surprised to see him stand up after that, but it started again, then he went over the balcony and landed in a heap on the ground.
"They followed him down and started again and I saw a brush shaft smashed across his head. I'm sure he was unconscious after that.
"I was on the phone to police when all this was happening. They knew there was the potential for something like this, having been there twice already.
"The man must have lain there in a pool of blood on the ground for a good 20 minutes before police finally came back."
The witness also claimed it took about 40 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.
"When I spoke to one of the police officers, he told me 'We had to come from Kilkeel', but they'd already been there twice and knew the party was already out of control," he said.
"The people who live around here are mainly pensioners and they're scared when they see this sort of thing happening. They don't want to say anything in fear of retribution.
"It's a Housing Executive property and there were issues with the previous tenants, but whoever they've put in there this time are even worse. They just shouldn't be here.
"The blood was dripping over the edge of the balcony. Today, we're left looking at a blood smear all the way down the wall. With everything that was going on, there should have been six or seven people arrested."
Police confirmed that two men had been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder following the incident.
A PSNI spokesperson said yesterday: "It's understood a 26-year-old man had been assaulted with a hammer. He was taken to hospital, where he is receiving treatment. The suspects, aged 17 and 29, were detained by police after fleeing the scene at around 12.20am. They remain in custody this morning.
"Detectives are looking into all aspects of the incident."
Detective Sergeant Connor appealed for help. "Anyone with information or who may have witnessed the males leaving the area at around 12.20am is asked to contact police on 101, quoting reference 21 29/05/19," he said.