‘i’M lucky to be alive’

A Dungiven man who was the victim of a “horrific” attack by a four-man gang wielding bats says he is “lucky to be alive”.

The 23 year-old, who preferred not to be named, spoke out yesterday about the assault which happened in the early hours of June 13th.

“I’d been watching the football that day and came home to the GAA club. I left there with my girlfriend and we parted ways. I was walking up the street when a van stopped and a crowd of boys jumped out. I ran up the street but they caught up with me and jumped on me, throwing me to the ground. I got a boot to the face. I don’t remember much after that. ”

The man said he has no idea how long he way lying on the ground for.

He said that if the attack had happened any further up the street, in a more isolated spot, it might have been much longer before he was discovered.

Police say the Main Street attack, which happened between 2.30am and 3am, involved four men, some of whom were armed with bats. They made off in a red car. Earlier police thought they might have had a sledgehammer.

The victim suffered head and leg injuries resulting in 15 stitches and seven staples in his head.

“I have a cracked tooth and nearly lost another. I was shook up but I’ll be alright. I’m not too bad now. My legs are the sorest. I have a lot of bruising,” he said, explaining he will be off work until at least the end of the week. He says he has no idea why he was targeted and called those behind the assault “cowards”.

“They just saw me and took their opportunity,” he said. “It’s upset the whole family, but I’m lucky to be alive.”

Local councillors in Dungiven branded the attack “horrifying” and say the community is shocked by it. They have urged anyone with information to come forward.

Police want anyone who witnessed the attack to contact CID on 0845 600 8000 or, alternatively ly, to call Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.