A woman has been assaulted with a drill in a potentially homophobic attack in Northern Ireland.
A teenage boy was arrested after a 38-year-old woman suffered a “very serious” head injury, police said.
The victim is in a critical but stable condition in hospital after the attack, described as “barbaric” by local representatives, in County Tyrone.
Detectives are questioning a 17 year old male after a woman (38) was attacked with a drill in Strabane early this morning. The victim sustained a very serious head injury and is understood to be in a critical but stable condition in hospital. Police continue to examine the scene.— Police Service NI (@PoliceServiceNI) May 5, 2018
A 17-year-old boy is being questioned after the incident at around 2am on Saturday morning in Railway Street in Strabane.
Police Service of Northern Ireland Detective Sergeant Brian Reid said they are looking into the possibility that the attack was homophobic and appealed to anyone with footage of a male with a cordless drill in the area at the time to contact them.
He said: “This was a brutal attack and the injuries sustained by the victim are extremely grave.
“We are exploring a possible homophobic motive for the crime and we are appealing for witnesses to get in touch with us.
The PSNI have released the following details. A horrific, shocking attack on a woman in Strabane. If anyone has information or witnessed please come forward. My thoughts are with the woman involved. pic.twitter.com/RMGPFyAhpd— Daniel McCrossan MLA 🕊🇪🇺 (@McCrossanMLA) May 5, 2018
“We would like to hear from anyone who may have seen a male carrying a drill in the area at around the time of the assault and we would especially like to speak to anyone who may have captured footage, either on mobile phone or dashcam.”
Corey French, who described himself as a family friend, said he spoke to the victim at a local nightclub just hours before the attack.
The 24-year-old, said: “She was (having) good craic, we were having a laugh, chatting away.”
He described the woman as someone with a “complete and utter heart of gold”.
He added: “She wouldn’t be the sort of person who would be confrontational, she would be very friendly.”
Local politicians have expressed their disgust.
Sinn Fein West Tyrone Assembly member (MLA) Michaela Boyle said people are shocked at the “horrific” nature of the attack.
She added that, if there does turn out to be a homophobic motive behind the assault “then this barbaric attack is all the more reprehensible”.
Fellow MLA Daniel McCrossan added his voice to the outrage, and called for those with information to come forward.
The SDLP representative said: “I am absolutely horrified by this assault. This kind of sickening behaviour has no place in society.”
Officers are continuing to examine the scene and anyone with information is asked to call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.