Belfast Telegraph

Woman tells of horror at hearing sledgehammer victim’s screams

The scene in the Woodvale area of Larne where a man was attacked in his home
The scene in the Woodvale area of Larne where a man was attacked in his home
Councillor Andrew Wilson at the scene in the Woodvale area of Larne where a man was attacked in his home
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

A neighbour of a young Co Antrim man who suffered "life-changing" injuries in a brutal paramilitary-style attack has expressed her shock after responding to his desperate cries for help.

The victim, aged in his 20s, is recovering in hospital after a gang of men entered his Woodvale home in Larne at around 11.25pm on Sunday before beating him with sledgehammers.

It is understood he lived in the property alone with his two dogs and pet cat.

The culprits were seen making off down an alleyway shortly before police arrived on the scene after being alerted by a nearby resident who had got up to go to the bathroom at around 11.30pm.

"I heard him screaming - it sounded like he was in a lot of pain," she said.

"I rang the ambulance straight away because there was no doubt someone was in serious trouble. It was awful. It was only by chance that I happened to get up and that my bathroom window was open, otherwise I wouldn't have heard a thing."

The young mother, whose five-year-old son slept through the commotion, has been left distressed as a result of the ordeal.

"It has been very upsetting for me - it's horrible to hear someone screaming like this man was," she said.

She described the victim as a "quiet but friendly" man who loved his pets. "I only ever saw him when he was out walking the dogs - he never caused problems for anyone," she added.

When police and ambulance crews arrived they discovered the young man inside the semi-detached house which had a number of windows smashed.

He was taken to hospital for treatment after sustaining injuries to his legs and arms which police have described as "life-changing".

Detective Sergeant Pete Crothers said detectives are treating the "brutal" attack as a "paramilitary-style" assault.

Another neighbour who slept through the ordeal said she was stunned after being woken by a knock on her door shortly after the attack had taken place.

"I knew nothing about it until the police came to my door, I didn't hear a thing," she said.

"This is a quiet area and I have never felt under threat living here - it is shocking to think that something like this has happened and I hope they catch whoever is responsible."

She also described the victim as a "quiet and friendly" resident.

Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs strongly condemned the "barbaric and brutal" assault which he said has no place in a democratic society.

"We should rely on the police and the justice system, and with this in mind I would urge the community to contact the PSNI," the East Antrim MLA added.

Ulster Unionist councillor Andrew Wilson also condemned the "vicious attack" which he said is inexcusable, regardless of possible motive.

"The words sledgehammers and life-changing injuries say it all and show how nasty this attack was," he said. "It is deeply concerning to know that there is a gang out there capable of inflicting this level of calculated violence on others.

"Paramilitary organisations have very little support in this community and the police must take whatever steps are necessary in order to root them out once and for all."

Mr Wilson said it is important people remember there is "only one force of law and order in our society". "That is the PSNI, not these vigilante thugs," he added.

Police have appealed for anyone who was in the area between 11.05pm and 11.25pm on Sunday and who saw anything suspicious to contact detectives on 101 quoting reference 1577 16/09/18.

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