A city centre business owner has expressed his concern following an incident on Sunday night when a homeless man was apparently set alight by youths who had gathered in the area.
Reports received by the ‘Journal’ indicate that the elderly man was assaulted close to the city’s bus depot on Foyle Street at around 7 p.m.
The business owner, who did not wish to be named, contacted the ‘Journal’ yesterday claiming that an increasingly large number of young people are regularly gathering on Foyle Street and are engaging in underage drinking and highly aggressive anti-social behaviour.
“It’s getting to the stage where someone on this street is going to be killed.
“It is becoming progressively worse.
“There have been several incidents recently, including when three young Protestant boys were attacked,” he noted.
The businessman said the behaviour of the young people, some of whom he claimed were in their early teens, is also having the effect of driving trade away from one of the city’s main arterial routes.
The ‘Journal’ was also told that some of the youngsters are bringing clear plastic bottles with them and then filling them with alcohol to disguise the fact they are drinking.
One eye witness, who also did not want to be named, told the ‘Journal’ that he had to go into a nearby bar and get water to extinguish the flames on the leg of the homeless man.
He said: “There were also two girls who were trying to put the fire out with a small bottle of water.
“It took two pints of water to put the flames out.
“To me this wasn’t as a result of an accident with a cigarette because the flames went up too quickly.
“I believe something was poured over him and it was set on fire.
“The man wears plastic leggings and they appeared to stick to his leg so it was serious.
“Those who did this are scumbags and they need to be caught.”
Both the businessman and the eye-witness said they believed there were up to 60 young people in the immediate vicinity at the time.
The ‘Journal’ understands that an ambulance had been called to the scene but the man initially refused treatment.
It is believed that a local hostel, where the man resides, is now looking after him and his injuries are not thought to be serious.
When contacted, the PSNI said they are aware of reports that a man had sustained an injury to his leg and are currently carrying out further investigations to establish the exact cause.