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Catholic teen injured 'fleeing' sectarian mob in Belfast

Padraig Connor in hospital after being injured while fleeing the attack in north Belfast
Brendan Hughes

A CATHOLIC teenager was injured after being hit by a taxi while fleeing a sectarian mob in north Belfast.

Padraig Connor and his two friends were at a service station on the Crumlin Road when they were set upon by three men.

The 17-year-old escaped as the gang tried to drag him into their car, but while running onto the road he was struck by a passing taxi.

He suffered a broken and dislocated left leg and was yesterday due to undergo surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

The attack happened close to the Mater Hospital at about 2.40am on Sunday when the teenagers went to buy cigarettes after watching the Carl Frampton title fight.

Padraig's mother Bronagh Connor yesterday said they were targeted by the mob, thought to be aged in their thirties, because they are Catholic.

"They were in the garage and one of the gang was asking them are they Catholic. They were set upon because of their religion," she said.

"They just ignored them and they tried to walk on to get into the Mater because they knew they were going to be in danger, and that's when they started chasing them.

"Padraig nearly got in but one of them tried to grab him. He was trying to get away from the fella who was trying to get him into a car.

"And whatever way Padraig ran he ran out onto the main road and got knocked down."

The mother-of-four said she felt lucky that her eldest child escaped alive, and warned other young people to be aware of the dangers of walking in the area late at night.

The 37-year-old added: "I am absolutely disgusted. It just makes you really angry that grown men could do this, how men can go out and do the like of that to young children – it's just sick.

"Obviously they were being watched coming down the Crumlin Road and knew they were Catholic, walking down that way."

The PSNI last night said a sectarian motive is one line of inquiry for the incident.

A spokesman said: "It was reported that at around 2.40am two males aged 17 and an 18-year-old female were in the forecourt of a local service station when three unknown males exited a car and assaulted them.

"They were chased by the males and in attempting to get away one of the 17-year-old males was struck by a passing car.

"He was treated in hospital for a suspected fractured ankle as a result of the incident."

PSNI Inspector Roy Burnside appealed for anyone with information to phone police in Tennent Street.

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