Derry mother describes horror after fleeing with newborn child

Debris torched at the traffic island.
Debris torched at the traffic island.
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A Derry mother has described how she was forced to flee her home with her 10-day-old son after her partner was set upon and her home attacked.

The 21-year-old local woman and her new baby are now homeless because they are terrified those who smashed their window with a beer bottle and set upon her partner will return.

The man was attacked after retrieving his girlfriend’s wheelie bin from a gang who had taken it and were attempting to set it alight at around 3am on Saturday.

The Derry woman, who has just had her home of two and half years refurbished prior to the arrival of her little son, is now having her belongings put in storage and is now forced to find alternative accommodation while she awaits temporary housing.

After witnessing their own bin being piled onto a fire started at a traffic island between Moss Park and Collon Lane, the woman’s partner ran over and pulled it out before it caught fire.

As her partner was walking away with the bin, two members of the gang approached him and asked his what he was doing. The man told them it was his partner’s bin and that they were not burning it, after which they started swinging a bottle and then lobbed it at him, narrowly missing him.

The four-strong gang, aged from around 16 to late 20s, then jumped on him. His partner said: “I was in the flat and started screaming ‘I have a baby in here, please stop it’, and the whole way through the garden they were just hitting him. My neighbours, the whole street was out, and eventually they got them off him. As we were coming back up the steps, the neighbours held the gate to stop them getting at us, and two of them tried to climb railings to have a go at us. As we got into the flat we put the table up against the door and we heard the big smash then.”

The gang had fired a beer bottle, smashing the outer pane of newly installed double glazing.

“I could hear them shouting ‘target that top flat’,” the woman said. “They were clearly off their faces.”

The family had to be escorted to a car by representatives from Galliagh Community Empowerment, who have been praised by the family for helping to ensure their safety.

The gang returned several hours later, while a female relative of one of the gang returned the next morning with a hurley bat. “I just feel sick now,” the woman said. “I’m supposed to be enjoying this time with my baby, but I can’t.”

The girl’s mother and her partner’s mother also spoke of their horror at what had unfolded, and said long-term residents in the area had expressed their own shock.

Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly, who has been working with the family since the incident, has branded the attack a disgrace.