‘UDA forced us from our home’

The house at Rossdowney Gardens which was attacked on Saturday night.  (0305jB92)
The house at Rossdowney Gardens which was attacked on Saturday night. (0305jB92)

A Waterside family who were forced out of their home earlier this week by loyalist paramilitaries have spoken for the first time about their terrifying ordeal.

The Simpson family had to leave their Rossdowney Park home last Sunday after it was attacked by a gang of eight men, some armed with hammers, who chanted ‘UDA’ as they smashed more than 12 windows in the house.

Gerry and Isobel Simpson had lived in the street for 21 years and said they are “heartbroken” to have to leave their home. Their son, Saul, also received a death threat to his place of work on Monday and he has had to give up his job as a result. Explaining what happened in the early hours of last Sunday morning, Mrs Simpson said three men attacked her son and some of his friends as they waited for a taxi outside the family home.

The Waterside woman said the gang then returned in greater numbers as the incident became more sinister. “They came back and there was about eight of them and they started chanting ‘UDA UDA ra ra ra.’ They had hammers and crowbars and they started hitting the door,” she explained.

Her husband, Gerry, said the gang made a “concerted effort” to get into their home. “They kicked the door in and it landed in the hall. Our five year-old grandson was in the bedroom opposite where the door was kicked in. Everyone was hysterical. My daughter grabbed him and took him into the bathroom and got into the shower and covered themselves with a blanket. We also phoned the police again and told them what was happening,” he said.

Mrs Simpson said the gang then entered the house and threatened them. “Three or four of them came in and one was wielding a hammer, swinging it at me and my husband. They pointed at us all individually and shouted ‘out.’ They kept saying we had 24 hours to leave and shouting ‘UDA,’ she said.

Mr Simpson said: “They were so brazen and they were in no rush. We shouted that we had phoned the police but it didn’t seem to bother them.”

His wife added: “They had no fear and were very aggressive and violent. They seemed to be taking great pleasure for intimidating us. It was clear they were not novices to this type of thing.”

The following day, the couple’s son was targeted at his work. “Three people came in and said if I was seen in the shop or the Waterside again I’d be killed,” he said.