‘It’s not too late to do the right thing’ in McCauley case - plea

Derry man Paul McCauley who remains in a coma five years after a sectarian attack. (1507MM25)
Derry man Paul McCauley who remains in a coma five years after a sectarian attack. (1507MM25)

The detective leading the probe into the vicious sectarian assault which left Derry man Paul McCauley in a permanent vegetative state, has appealed for help in bringing his attackers to justice.

The appeal to the loyalist community in Derry marks the fifth anniversary of the brutal attack which left Prehen man Paul McCauley (34) permanently brain damaged. Up to 15 people were involved in the assault which took place on open ground at the back of a house in Chapel Road in the early hours of July 16, 2006.

The officer in charge of the case, Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison, said this week that new information has come to light in the investigation which, as yet, had led to the conviction of just one person in connection with the assault.

“Five years on, this investigation remains open and active. We have new information which has become available to the investigation and we are going back into the community to try to obtain more.”

House-to-house enquiries are to be made in the coming days and police will be handing out leaflets in the Irish Street area and the Fountain estate. One man [Daryl Proctor, of the Fountain] is currently serving a 12 year sentence for his part in the assault but police believe as many as 15 people were involved.

DCI Harrison added: “We are asking local people to think about what they know and to come forward and talk to us.”

The renewed appeal has been made with the backing of Paul’s father, Jim, who said his family was still waiting for answers and for justice.

Mr McCauley said the lives of his family members have been “on hold” since the attack.

“The attack on Paul has ruined his life and changed the rest of our lives forever. Paul remains in a minimally responsive state - he can’t move or communicate with us. It is heart-breaking, particularly when most of those involved in the attack are still walking about.”

He added: “Paul loved life and he loved people. In his spare time he was a volunteer with Foyle Search and Rescue, helping those who were in distress. Now we are asking people in our city to help him and us in our time of need by providing information.

“Five years ago, the damage was done to Paul. But while those individuals who inflicted his terrible injuries remain at large, they remain a threat to all of us in this city. Five years on, it’s time to give them up.”

Paul was attending a summer BBQ at the rear of a house in Chapel Road on July 15, 2006. At 3.20am only he and two others remained when a group of up to 15 people came out of bushes and attacked them. After the assault the group made off in the direction of Irish Street.

DCI Harrison said a cloud continues to hang over the loyalist community because of the silence over the attack.

“The vicious attack on Paul has changed his life in ways which most of us can never begin to imagine. But his family has to live with the consequences. And the community has a cloud hanging over it, which will not be lifted until it gives up those who were responsible. I am asking those who were there that night, and those who know who was there, to examine their consciences, to think about Paul and the McCauley family, their suffering and their heartache.

“It is not too late to do the right thing, to stand up and be counted. A lot can happen in five years – allegiances and loyalties may change; people move on. Tragically, Paul McCauley will not be moving on. He and his family deserve better.

“They deserve the truth about what happened that night and they deserve justice. I am appealing to people in the Irish Street, Clooney, Lincoln Courts, and Fountain areas. I know there are people in those communities who can identify Paul’s attackers.

“I am asking you to examine your conscience and do the right thing. We have a dedicated team of detectives who are actively pursuing any leads that will bring justice for Paul and for his family and friends. If you have any information, now is the time to tell us.”

The telephone number to ring is 0845 600 8000. Alternatively, information can be passed on anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on freephone 0800 555 111.