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'Crucifixion' victim feared gang would nail his feet to the ground

The house in Florence Walk where the attack took place
John Monaghan

A MAN nailed by his hands to his own kitchen counter says his loyalist attackers intended to do the same with his feet.

Paul Harbinson (23) was attacked in a house in Florence Walk in north Belfast on Thursday as a one-year-old child slept upstairs, with his girlfriend forced to wait in the hallway as nails were hammered into his hands.

One nail was hammered with such force it went right through the kitchen worktop and became embedded in a cupboard below, with the Fire Service forced to electrically saw the nail off.

The other nail was removed using industrial clippers.

Mr Harbinson said attempts were also made by the gang to hammer his feet into the ground in a 'crucifixion' style attack, but after a period of wrangling the group gave up and fled the house.

"We had just sat down after putting the child to bed when the back door came flying in," he said.

"I hadn’t a clue what was going on. I was asking what I was supposed to have done but they just kept screaming.”"

Mr Harbinson added: "They told me to put my hands out and when I refused he told me if I didn’t he would put the hammer right through my face."

Due to "adrenaline kicking in", the attack victim says he didn’t feel any pain at the time.

Mr Harbinson said: "For some reason I couldn’t feel a thing, I just watched. They were big ten inch nails but it didn’t hurt, it was the adrenaline. I can feel them now though, the pain’s bad."

"I tried to pull my hands from the counter but they were nailed tight, then just started jumping and kicking about the place. I just kept jumping around the place trying to make sure they couldn’t get my feet," he told the Sunday World.

He added: "It worked because after a bit they gave up. I thought I could pull the nails out of my hands myself but they were too far in."

Mr Harbinson, originally from the Shankill area, said he has no idea why he was targeted.

He said: "I have never sold drugs or meth in my life. If I am being totally honest I used to buy the illegal high 4CMC off the internet but I never sold it to anyone, they were for me and my mates and that was about a year ago."

"As for housebreaking, never, I just wouldn’t do that, I wouldn’t steal."

After living in the area for four months, Mr Harbinson, who will now see a hand specialist to establish if any long-term nerve damage has been caused, has said he will never return.

He said: "I will never be back, what way is that to live? I just wish my family would leave too."

The street is adjacent to Florence Square, where former UFF leader Johnny Adair arranged for his own son to be shot in a punishment-style attack in 2002.

PUP leader Billy Hutchinson condemned the attack as "absolutely terrible" and said "we all hoped that actions like this had been left behind."

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