The mother of a north Belfast teenager who was severely beaten in a sectarian attack is to launch a legal action against the PSNI over investigative failures and their ‘breach of duty of care’ to the schoolboy.
Flynn Maguire, who was 15 and a student at St Malachy’s College, was targeted by up to 15 youths who kicked and punched him as he cycled past a loyalist area on May 10 last year.
The teen, who has represented his school and Antrim in cross-country running, was set upon on the Limestone Road at around 8.30pm. A crowd of youths, also on bikes, shouted at him and asked him what school he attended, before chasing and assaulting him including throwing him against railings, causing a huge gash to his head.
The teenager managed to get to his feet and run from the scene, making it to a friend’s house on the Cavehill Road, where he collapsed. He was taken to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children where he was treated for his injuries.
The attack happened just weeks before the disappearance and death of fellow St Malachy’s schoolboy, 14-year-old Noah Donohoe, whose body was found six days after he was last seen cycling through north Belfast.
Flynn’s mother, Clare Hughes, has previously described her son as ‘the boy who got away’. She said the PSNI did not attend the scene in the immediate aftermath of the attack on him, despite being told the crowd was still in the area, and it was three days before her son’s statement was taken.
Over the following weeks and months she said she received no updates about the investigation and was told “someone would get back to me”. Over the summer she was told to “not be contacting the police again”.
Ms Hughes, who lives in the North Circular Road area, said she felt so let down by the PSNI that she took the matter into her own hands, visiting the scene and making CCTV enquiries with local businesses.
She made a complaint to the Police Ombudsman but later found it had been ignored.
A spokesman for the Ombudsman’s office said there had been an “administrative error” which led to the matter “not being progressed as it should have been”.
Now, almost one year on from the attack, Ms Hughes is to launch a legal action. Michael Brentnall, her lawyer, said the PSNI “failed at every turn to properly investigate and bring the perpetrators before the courts”.
“Our client was subjected to a vicious sectarian attack in which he suffered significant injuries,” he said.
“In this investigation the failures by the PSNI are elementary. They have admitted such failings in a meeting with our client’s mother.
“The failings encompassed a failure to review CCTV and seize it, and more concerning was a refusal to apprehend those identified in or around the scene of the assault as the suspected perpetrators in the assault and a robbery.”
Mr Brentnall added: “The failures of the PSNI to investigate this case are seismic and the ramifications are monumental.
“Our office has requested that the Police Ombudsman investigate with due expedition, given their failures in this case to initially investigate the matter.
“Furthermore we intend to issue legal proceedings against the PSNI in respect of their investigate failures and breach of duty of care owed to our client.”