Derry woman, 74, describes ‘living nightmare’ after home attacked

Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly and Sean McIntyre survey the damage to Mrs McIntyre's home in Rinmore Drive.
Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly and Sean McIntyre survey the damage to Mrs McIntyre's home in Rinmore Drive.

A 74-year-old Creggan woman has said the current level of anti-social behaviour plaguing residents is the worst she’s seen in five decades living in the estate, following an attack on her home yesterday.

Margaret McIntyre’s son Sean was asleep on the sofa when someone armed with a hurley bat smashed the living room window of her Rinmore Drive home, spraying him with glass.

The glass strewn across the floor following the attack. Some of the glass landed on top of Mr McIntyre as he lay on the sofa.

The glass strewn across the floor following the attack. Some of the glass landed on top of Mr McIntyre as he lay on the sofa.

Footage from CCTV erected nearby captured the attacker in action.

“He had it sussed out, whoever done it,” Mrs McIntyre said. “It’s on camera, he’s covered up, and with a hurley bat too. He must have hit it with some force.” The incident happened just after 3am yesterday, 20 minutes after the nearby Creggan Heights home of Clare Friel (41), was also targeted, with her hall window put through. Ms Friel said she now wants to leave her home.

“I was sitting in the living room with the door closed when I heard it. I went out then and saw it was the hall window. It woke my daughter. She was terrified. It’s ridiculous.”

The incidents were the latest in a series of attacks on residents in the area, and the women have warned that drug fuelled youths and joyriders are turning life at the top of Creggan into a living nightmare.

A second hall window smashed at a family's home in Creggan Heights.

A second hall window smashed at a family's home in Creggan Heights.

“There’s too much drugs and everything up here,” Ms Friel said.

“There were boys snorting and all last week outside the house. You are steady finding packets of prescription drugs in the street, diazepam and all that.

“It’s during the day as well; it’s a 24 hour thing, you don’t feel safe any time. People don’t want their wains out because they’re afraid of them getting knocked down by joyriders or else finding tablets lying in the street and thinking they are sweets.”

Mrs McIntyre added: “It’s terrible.

Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly and Sean McIntyre survey the damage outside the home of Mr McIntyre's mother.

Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly and Sean McIntyre survey the damage outside the home of Mr McIntyre's mother.

“I’ve lived here 46 years. I never had any bother, I’ve had the best neighbours and still have. It’s just these hoods and everything.

“I went through all the bothers, the Troubles, with Piggery Ridge up there, but I feel more vulnerable now.”

“That’s what I was saying, I’m glad I’ll not be around for the next generation, the way things is going now.”

Her son Sean said he shouted after the culprit and then pursued him, but that the attacker got away, having seemingly carefully prepared his escape route.

Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly said there had been a “huge increase” in anti-social behaviour, joyriding, burglaries and drug episodes making life a “living nightmare” for residents.

“There can be no justification whatsoever with regards a senseless attack on a 74-year-old woman and another woman who is living with her child,” he said. “This is the third attack in the matter of a fortnight specifically targeting homes.

“There are joyriding incidents almost on a daily basis now, they are not even waiting until it is dark any more. There are a number of houses here in Creggan where local people think the trouble is emanating from- that they are bringing friends or people they have met into the community and that this is the core of the problem here.

“There is also a huge problem here with drugs, particularly prescription drugs. I think there definitely needs to be more education among young people.”

Colr. Donnelly said there was a public meeting recently to discuss anti-social behaviour which attracted around 200 people, but said opinion was split on the way forward.

“Some were saying about using the PSNI and others were saying the PSNI were part of the problem, that they don’t even come out a lot of the time to incidents, and if they do arrest somebody that there is a revolving door, that they’re in for a matter of hours then released.”

Condemning the attack on the homes, Sinn Fein Councillor Kevin Campbell, said “These attacks are wrong and I utterly condemn them.

“Everyone should have the right to live free from fear or intimidation or attack in their own home.

“I would call on anyone with information on these incidents to bring it forward to the PSNI.”