Northern Ireland news

Belfast family's shock as boy (16) injured in sectarian attack

SDLP councillor Paul McCusker
Mairead Holland

THE mother of a 16-year-old boy who was injured in a sectarian attack in north Belfast has described how "the very shoes and socks were trailed off him".

The teenager had been dropped off at Cambrai Street, off the Crumlin Road, after football and was making his way home to Ardoyne when the incident happened just before 3pm on Saturday.

A number of men are reported to have punched and kicked the boy, inflicting facial and chest injuries.

SDLP councillor Paul McCusker said the teenager was rescued by care workers who were working close by and that local people also helped.

The victim was taken to hospital for treatment and discharged later that night.

"This was a very aggressive attack and his family is very, very angry at what happened. His mother told me he was badly bruised, he has no skin on his toes, his jaw was 'busted' and he has chest injuries and bruising to his ribs," Mr McCusker said.

"She said the very shoes and socks were trailed off him.

"He is back home with his family resting now but it has left him and his family very shocked.

"They are aware that if those care workers hadn't come to his aid, it could have been a lot worse."

Mr McCusker said the family's distress had been compounded by rumours that their son had been involved in a pre-arranged fight in the area.

"He was not involved in any pre-arranged fight," he said. "He was just walking home after football.

"The Crumlin Road is a busy road used by both sides of the community and people should not feel frightened or under threat.

"Things have been quiet here and we want to keep it that way. There has been a lot of good community relations work going on here but attacks like this create anger in the community."

The Oldpark area representative also voiced his fear that pre-arranged fights between youths, mainly sectarian in nature, were starting again.

"We don't want these reigniting. We have had two months with no reports of any, but before that it was really bad," he said.

Police said the attack was being treated as a "sectarian hate crime".

"As the injured party was walking down Cambrai Street he was assaulted by an unknown male. A number of other males who were with the assailant then also proceeded to assault him," a PSNI spokesman said.

"He was taken to hospital for treatment to his injuries."

Police also confirmed they had received a report yesterday afternoon of a pre-arranged fight at Crumlin Road but when they arrived "there was no sign of any such fight".

"Whilst we have no definitive evidence to confirm there was an orchestrated or planned fight, I would like to take this opportunity to impress upon our young people to be mindful of the affect anti-social behaviour can have on local residents," the spokesman said.

"We continue to work with community representatives and partner agencies to ensure that a collaborative approach is progressed in our efforts to prevent anti-social behaviour and detect those persons involved.

"We will be conducting regular patrolling in the area in the coming weeks and young people are advised that we will be adopting a robust approach in making anyone involved in anti-social behaviour amenable for their actions."

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