Police launch attempted murder probe after brutal hammer attack

June 3, 2019

Two teenagers are among four arrested and questioned in relation to the brutal assault of a man in Newry.

The victim was treated in hospital for serious injuries after he was viciously beaten with a hammer during a house party in Cleary Crescent in the city in the early hours of Tuesday morning.  The 26-year-old man was repeatedly beaten with a hammer before falling from a first floor balcony.  An eyewitness claimed the casualty lay on the ground for around 40 minutes before an ambulance arrived at the scene.  He was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for treatment to his injuries.

In the aftermath, police launched an attempted murder investigation and four males were arrested and questioned in connection with the crime.  A 17-year-old boy and a 29-year-old man were detained soon after; the teenager appeared in Newry Magistrates Court on Thursday charged with related offences, while was man released on police bail pending further enquiries.

On Friday a fifteen-year-old boy and a 24-year-old man were also detained in police custody on suspicion of attempted murder.

The PSNI’s response to the incident has been criticized after it emerged that police officers had previously visited the premises, having responded to complaints from neighbours.

It’s believed that after police left, an altercation reignited and up to three assailants “battered” the victim repeatedly.  After he fell from the balcony, the gang continued their attack as he lay motionless on the ground below.

Cleary Crescent is a quiet residential area of Newry, with many of the homes occupied by pensioners.

A resident who witnessed the incident said there are questions to be answered over the police response.

He said: “Police were aware a drunken party was going on. This is a quiet area where a lot of pensioners live and we shouldn’t have to put up with this.  But police have questions to answer. They had already visited the area twice earlier in the night and would have received six or seven calls from local residents about the party.”

Stating that the house party had gotten out of control, he added, “We had young men in bare feet, stripped to the waist and drinking in front of the house for a few hours.  When police knew this was going on, why did they not put a stop to it there and then? Instead they went away.  When they came back a second time, I heard one person in the house shout out of the window, ‘Is this antisocial enough for you?’ But again police went away without doing anything to stop the disturbances. Residents in the area were frightened.”

He said the party had been going on “for a good few hours before it really kicked off just before midnight”.

“I heard someone shout something like ‘You hit my girlfriend’ then two men started attacking another man standing on the balcony.  They laid into him for a good five or six minutes before a third man joined in.  They really battered him – it was horrible to watch. I was surprised to see him stand up after that, but it started again, then he went over the balcony and landed in a heap on the ground.  They followed him down and started again and I saw a brush shaft smashed across his head. I’m sure he was unconscious after that.

“I was on the phone to police when all this was happening. They knew there was the potential for something like this, having been there twice already.  The man must have lain there in a pool of blood on the ground for a good 20 minutes before police finally came back.”

The witness also claimed it took about 40 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.

“The people who live around here are mainly pensioners and they’re scared when they see this sort of thing happening.  They don’t want to say anything in fear of retribution,” the man continued.  

“The blood was dripping over the edge of the balcony. Today, we’re left looking at a blood smear all the way down the wall. With everything that was going on, there should have been six or seven people arrested.”

A PSNI spokesperson said: “It’s understood a 26-year-old man had been assaulted with a hammer. He was taken to hospital, where he is receiving treatment. The suspects, aged 17 and 29, were detained by police after fleeing the scene at around 12.20am.  Detectives are looking into all aspects of the incident.”

Detective Sergeant Connor said: “Anyone with information or who may have witnessed the males leaving the area at around 12.20 is asked to contact police on 101, quoting reference 21 29/05/19.”