Northern Ireland

LVF linked to attack on disabled boy’s home

New house targeted in sectarian attack

Nine year Jessy Clarke, with his great-grandmothers Pauline O’Loan (LEFT) and Margaret Hart have vowed they’ll move into Jessy’s new bungalow to face down the thugs who have threatened their family PICTURE: CONOR MCCAUGHLEY

The LVF has been linked to a sectarian attack on the home of a nine-year-old disabled boy.

The specially adapted house was one of two properties attacked in Antrim in the early hours of Sunday.

Windows were smashed and paint bombs thrown at the properties at Reford Grove, close to the loyalist Ballycriagy estate, at around 3am on Sunday.

Police have described the attack as a sectarian-motivated hate crime.

There was controversy last week after it emerged that Union and ‘Ulster’ flags had been put at the new mixed development, which is off the Belfast Road, and that kerb stones had been painted red, white and blue.

Sources in Antrim say those responsible for the weekend attacks have links to the LVF, which has a presence in the Ballycraigy area.

One of the properties targeted was specially built for Jessy Clark, who suffers from spina bifida and has a range of other complex medical needs.

The purpose-built bungalow has been adapted to meet Jessy’s medical requirements and includes a hoist and widened doorways.

The youngster, who uses a wheelchair, was due to move into the specially adapted house with his young sisters, aged seven and two, and their mother in the coming days.

His mother got the keys of the family new home last Wednesday.

The family said police later contacted her by phone, warning her not to move into the property “because they would be harmed”.

In a statement, police said that “four people dressed in dark clothing” ran into the Reford Grove development and threw objects.

Police added that two windows were smashed and paint damage caused at both properties.

A PSNI spokesman said “we are treating this damage as a sectarian-motivated hate crime” adding it takes “a zero tolerance approach to those wanting to cause fear, or incite and promote hatred”.

Jessy’s great grandmother Margaret Hart, who is a Protestant, and has previously taken him to band parades and bonfires, spoke of the impact of what has happened.

“I feel sick, I can’t eat, I can’t sleep,” she said.

“This was supposed to be Jesy’s forever home.

“Once he turned 18 that would probably be put into his name....that was designed especially for his needs.”

Ms Hart said Jessy is not aware of what has happened over recent days.

“He thinks he’s moving into this bungalow soon and if he doesn’t get into this bungalow I don’t know what’s going to happen to his mental health,” she said.

She added that “words cannot describe how I feel”.

On Monday Jessy’s other great grandmother Pauline O’Loan, who is a Catholic, said those responsible have “no empathy” and labelled them “heartless”.

Both great grandparents say they do not know who was responsible for the attack and added that they are willing to talk to anyone who can help.

“We are willing to meet up with anybody that can discuss this, if we can discuss this with anybody we are willing to do that and tell our story and explain that Jessy needs this,” she said.

“We have no prejudice against any part of the community, it was the police that said it was a sectarian hate crime and we were completely shocked.”