Derry man Paul McCauley died last weekend as a result of a vicious loyalist assault nine years ago. His father has now called for a full and proper investigation into his murder.
Early on the morning of July 16 2006, Paul was attacked along with two friends as they sat in the garden of a house in Derry’s Waterside following a barbecue. A gang of up to 15 loyalists attacked the three men, purely for being Catholic, after forcing their way into the garden.
So vicious was the assault that Paul suffered a brain haemorrhage and multiple heart attacks as he was being rushed to hospital. It is understood a number of senior loyalist UDA figures in the city were involved.
Since that day, the 38-year-old father-of-one had remained in a virtual coma until Saturday, when he died. The family’s suffering is heartbreaking.
On the fifth anniversary of the attack, his father, Jim said: “Paul is as he was the day after the attack. Sometimes his eyes will follow you around the room when someone is talking but we’ve no way of knowing what he is aware off or even if he knows who we are.”
Only one of the gang was charged in connection with the attack, and he has since been released. Following a complaint by the McCauleys to the Policing Board, an internal review of the original investigation made 42 recommendations. The PSNI finally apologised to the family last year.
“It is a matter of continuing concern and disappointment that one of the most evil crimes committed in Derry has not been acknowledged by people in the community from which these killers came, and in which they are still being harboured,” said Jim.
He said that with his passing, the family have a certain amount of closure, “but full closure can only come when we have justice for Paul; when all those responsible are made answerable.”
Jim added that the PSNI informed the family on Saturday that they were treating his son’s death as murder. But despite 25 arrests over the past nine years, only the then 18-year-old Daryl Proctor from Derry’s Fountain estate was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent
He was released from prison in February after serving six years of a 12-year sentence. He has always refused to name the others who were involved in the assault.
At his trial, the judge ruled that an attempted murder charge be left on Proctor’s file. That charge could be immediately activated and prosecuted, but the PSNI have so far given no indication they intend to do so.
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson expressed her condolences to the family.
“Jim McCauley, Paul’s father often referred to the wall of silence within the unionist community,” she said.
“There is an onus on everyone, particularly elected representatives, to encourage those with information about the attack to come forward so that those responsible can be brought to justice.
“That would send a positive and reassuring message to the McCauley family and, indeed, the wider community of Foyle.”
SDLP MLA for Foyle Mark H Durkan also expressed sympathy and solidarity with the family.
“They have endured a torrid 9 years watching their son suffer in a manner few of us can imagine,” he said.
“Their pain has been compounded by the failure to see justice done. All but one of the perpetrators of this sickening sectarian crime have evaded the law. Today may not be the time to dwell on the shortcomings of the police investigation into this incident but we must get behind the McCauley family in their campaign to see justice for Paul.
“I was at school with Paul and know what a gentle being he was that his life has been destroyed and that those responsible are still walking the streets is very difficult to take.”