Two wanted men beaten with iron bars by a gang in south Armagh before being covered in paint
TWO wanted men were kicked and beaten with iron bars by a gang of men in south Armagh before they were tied to a bench and covered in paint.
The PSNI last night welcomed the community response to help - but hit out at the "violent actions" of some.
Police have said that officers will now be working to identify those responsible for "taking the law into their own hands".
It is understood that James White and Alexis Guesto were detained by a gang of men in south Armagh on Saturday.
After being kicked and beaten with iron bars, they were taken to the village of Mullaghbawn where they were further assaulted and tied to a bench before being doused in paint.
Both men were treated in hospital for their injuries.
The PSNI said that Guesto and White were wanted for a "range of offences" including breach of licence and warrants. For legal reasons we are prevented from giving any further details.
Detective Chief Inspector Jill Duffie said: "Throughout Saturday as our search for the two men was ongoing, I was pleased with the response from the local community and the assistance being provided to police.
"Unfortunately, now, due to the violent actions of a small number of people, we have had to redirect resources and efforts towards investigating a serious assault.
"There is no excuse for individuals taking the law into their own hands nor for the violent scenes that we witnessed."
Footage posted on social media showed people surrounding the men at the bench, while another video shows the duo being taken away by officers as passers-by shout verbal abuse.
One of the men has been arrested, while the other last night remained in hospital receiving treatment for his injuries.
"Both men will be brought before the court at the earliest opportunity in relation to the matters for which they were being sought," added Inspector Duffie.
The Republican Network for Unity group said it "commended the actions taken" and claimed that local people had "apprehended" the duo with bleach and paint.
SDLP Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty said that there "can be no middle man in the criminal justice system".
Mr McNulty said: "It is important that the two wanted men can now be brought before the courts so that they can be subjected to the judicial process.
"It is disgraceful however that the police now also have to deal with an assault case."
The SDLP MLA said that "no-one is above the law" and added that those who attacked the pair should have handed them over to the PSNI.
"Some people knew of the whereabouts of the two men and instead of immediately referring the matter to the police authorities, they took the law into their own hands."
Mr McNulty added: "When the two men were caught, why were they not just handed over to the police?"
Asked if the pair were being sought in connection with any matters in the Republic, a Gardaí spokesman said: "We do not discuss named individuals."
The PSNI have appealed for anyone with information about the attack to contact officers on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.