Family seek answers after masked men attack ill woman’s home

Carmel Thornton, who has recently returned home after six months in hospital, said she wants to be left in peace.
Carmel Thornton, who has recently returned home after six months in hospital, said she wants to be left in peace.

A Derry woman who has just returned home after six months in hospital said she has been left shaken after a gang of masked and armed men tried to break down the front door of her home.

The PSNI have appealed for information regarding the attack at Carmel Thornton’s home in the Dove Gardens area of the Bogside on Thursday night.

Carmel said she was left terrified and shaken when the gang arrived at her front door at around 11.10pm and began to ram it with a heavy object.

The masked men are also believed to have fired several shots outside, smashing the windows of a car parked outside the property.

Speaking after the attack Carmel (54), who sleeps in the living room and uses crutches due to her illnesses and resulting mobility issues, told the Journal: “I have been in the hospital for six months and just got out last Friday.

“When this happened I couldn’t sleep or nothing. It was terrible.”

Carmel, who has lived in the Dove Gardens area for around 30 years, said: “I don’t want to leave my home. I don’t want to go into a nursing home or anywhere else. I’m alright here. But I am afraid now. There’s no need for this. I done nobody no harm, never did. I never hurt nobody.”

Ms. Thornton’s son said the family wanted answers as to why his mother’s home was attacked. He said: “My mother was in hospital with a broken hip. She fell here in the house, and there are all these complications. She now has a bile drainage bag that constantly has to be drained.

“She was in intensive care for two weeks. They had to take her in for major surgery to flush everything out to keep her alive. They had to take away a bit of her bowels. She had major surgery last year and more this year. She had a by-pass last October and she has to go back in for more major surgery.

“This is a disgrace. We want answers. Who was it? Why did they do that on a very seriously ill woman who is only out of hospital after six and a half months. Why cause a whole scene with a sick woman in her house?”

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue has condemned the incident. She said: “There can be no place for the use of guns on our streets. I would call on anyone with information on this incident to bring it forward to the PSNI.”

PSNI Chief Inspector Paul McCracken meanwhile said: “It was reported to police that shortly after 11pm a number of masked males attempted to smash the front door of the property.

“The suspects did not gain entry to the house, however, they are reported to have smashed windows of a vehicle parked outside. The two occupants of the house were not physically injured in the incident. Police are investigating reports that shots were fired during the incident.”

He appealed for anyone who was in the area and saw any suspicious activity, or who knows anything about the incident to contact Strand Road Criminal Investigation Branch on 101, quoting reference 1641 of 21/09/17 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.