A retired Derry community worker has issued a warning to people to be vigilant after sustaining horrific injuries in an apparently random assault outside his home.
Michael Carlin (46), who is well known for his community work in the Currynierin area, had been returning home from his cousin’s 50th birthday party when he set upon.
The Ardmore native had recently moved to Glendale and arrived at his flat only to find he had forgotten his keys.
His memory of the events which followed in the early hours of Sunday, May 3, is completely blank.
This, along with the lack of defensive marks on his hands, suggesting he may have been knocked unconscious before being set upon.
Mr Carlin sustained three broke ribs, a broken nose, and had boot marks on his forehead and jaw when he was discovered the next day.
He was also unable to eat for two days, and unable to see out of one eye for a time because of the swelling. Currently, Mr Carlin cannot hear out of his left ear because of a blood clot following the attack.
One of his lungs also took several days to start inflating again.
After spending almost a week in hospital Mr Carlin was released home last Friday.
“I’m still very sore, and it has been hard to breathe,” he said. “I’m still pretty shaken up my face is still badly bruised but thankfully the swelling has started going down.
“When you seen me at the start compared to now, I was lucky, very lucky.
“I was in shock when I seen myself.”
Mr Carlin said that he had broke his back five years ago and also had neck damage which meant that he could have easily ended up paralysed or worse.
“For the Grace of God my neck could have been snapped or the base of my spine snapped.”
Describing what happened, he said: “I was coming back from my cousin’s party- I don’t go out very often and this was my first time out since Christmas. I cam back about 4am and I remember getting out of the taxi but my coat with the keys was at my cousin’s house and I couldn’t get in.
“Everything after that I don’t remember. The guy who found me the next day said I was telling him while going in and out of consciousness about a couple of boys who had stopped and said they would try to get me into the house. But I can’t recall anything.”
All the injuries sustained were to Mr Carlin’s upper body and his phone, cigarettes and Zippo lighter, were missing when he was found. Mr Carlin said the Nokia Lumia 530 phone, which has pictures of his grandchildren, and his lighter are of great sentimental value to him.
Mr Carlin said his neighbours and the people in the area have been fantastic in light of what happened.
“If this had happened to a pensioner it would have killed them,” he said.
“I would urge neighbours with elderly residents to go and check on them every so often, and I would urge community groups to ensure local people are vigilant and to keep an eye on the vulnerable.”
Mr Carlin said he was looking after his friend’s dog during the weekend while the family were in Belfast.
Upon their return the man’s young teenage son had called up to collect a spare key and on finding Mr Carlin he ran home and got his father who administered first aid while waiting for the ambulance.
Mr Carlin praised the swift actions of his friend and his son.
In an apparently unrelated incident, a car parked close to Mr Carlin’s house was set ablaze on Saturday night, the day after he came out of hospital.
Because of his injuries and the close proximity of his address to the fire he was unable to get dressed and make it out of the dwelling during the alarm, and said he was advised by fire fighters at the scene to take alternative safety precautions.
Police in Derry have confirmed they are investigating a report that a man in his 40s was assaulted at Glendale Drive in the early hours of Sunday May 3.
A PSNI spokesman said: “He was taken to hospital by ambulance with injuries to his face, chest and stomach.
“A number of youths are thought to have been involved in the incident at the door and inside the man’s home.
“Although the incident took place between 3am and 4am, the injured man is thought to have lain unconscious for several hours until a friend called to see him in the afternoon.
“Information can be given on the police non-emergency number, 101, or by calling the Crimestoppers Charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.”