The Police Ombudsman’s office is to investigate a murderous mob attack on three young Catholic men in Portadown town centre last week which mirrored the controversial murder of Robert Hamill in the town ten years ago.
A PSNI police Land Rover was nearby at the time of the gang attack but again chose not to intervene.
SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly, who has seen the camera footage of the attacks by a loyalist mob, which resulted in three Catholics being injured, said it was a throwback to the North’s “dark days”.
The footage shows how PSNI officers remained in a Land Rover, parked 80 yards away at the junction with Market Street, during the 10-minute attacks while the men were attacked.
One young man has a bottle smashed over his head, a second is beaten to the ground and manages to wriggle free, and a third is set upon by up to 10 loyalist youths, about 50 blows rain in on him, and a youth stamps on his head.
Eyewitnesses have told how the PSNI refused to react “despite repeated 999 calls and personal pleas for action”.
The first youth was rushed to hospital where he had stitches inserted in cuts to his face and neck, the second was also cut to his face, and the third sustained serious bruising in various parts of his body.
The footage shows about a dozen loyalists - who it is believed had been earlier roaming the town centre - wandering down into Woodhouse Street and confronting a number of men having a smoke outside a local bar, and the trouble starts when one of the bar patrons is punched in the face.
There is a bit of a stand-off and the police are called in the meantime to sort out the trouble, and within a few minutes a Land Rover is seen driving past the bar from the Obins Street direction, but it doesn’t stop and, instead, parks at the junction with High Street.
In the meantime, more loyalists gather, and at this stage one of them smashes a bottle into the head of a young Catholic man, a second is beaten to the ground, and the situation goes out of control while the PSNI look on.
Meanwhile, another CCTV camera shows a third Catholic man being knocked to the ground further down Woodhouse Street, where eight to 10 loyalists rain down blows on him and he is stamped on the head.
The footage shows an older man walking up to police lines where he pleads with them to intervene. First, a police car - which had joined the Land Rover - sto ps outside the bar, then the Land Rover arrives, and the vehicles move away.
Father-of-three Robert Hamill died after being attacked by loyalists in similar circumstances in the town centre in 1997.
SCHOOL BUS TARGETED
A school bus taking children home was bombarded with stones and other missiles in a sectarian anti-Catholic attack in Derry’s Waterside.
Two of the vehicles’ windows were shattered during the attack on Monday afternoon but none of the passengers was hurt. The Translink bus, which was taking children from St. Columb’s College to their Waterside homes, was making its way along Rossdowney Road when it was targeted by youths throwing missiles.
The attack was condemned by Sinn Féin Councillor, Lynn Fleming. She said the people who targeted the bus of school children must be brought to justice as swiftly as those who stoned the Tavern Bar on Tuesday night.”
Councillor Fleming said: “Fortunately no one was seriously injured but these type of attacks, whether on school buses carrying Catholic children or taxis from perceived Nationalist companies, have been occurring over several years now
“These attacks need to be stamped out now before we have a serious injury or death. I am calling on the PSNI to put the same resources into bringing these culprits to justice as was deployed to apprehend the thugs who attacked a bar in London Street.”
MAN JAILED FOR NIGHTMARE ATTACK
A man motivated by “naked sectarianism” when he and his brother beat a Catholic man and planned to cut up his body while their victim pretended to be dead, was yesterday jailed for 22 years.
Aaron White was told by Justice Gillen at Belfast Crown Court that the attack on Michael Liam Reid four years ago “stands out as one of the most viciously sectarian and unprovoked attacks that the court has had the misfortune to encounter in recent years”.
He added that “few offences strike closer to the very fabric of our society than those fuelled by sectarianism, particularly where the intent is to kill”.
Last June White was convicted by the non-jury court of trying to murder Mr Reid in a house in Ballymena on October 11th, 2003.
Mr Reid had been visiting a friend after an argument with his girlfriend when White, his brother Neil White and another man who has never been caught, attacked him with a knife, a saucepan and a ligature.
The court heard that it was as Mr Reid lay playing dead he heard the three talk about getting a saw to cut up his body to dispose of it. Neil White of Wakehurst Road in Ballymena, is already serving a 16-year jail term after he pleaded guilty to the attempted murder.