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A Derry mother whose 15 year-old son received death threats from a masked gang in the early hours of yesterday morning has said the wider Gobnascale area has become “a lawless place where people live in fear”.

The mum and her two sons, aged 14 and 15, were going to bed shortly after midnight on Wednesday night when masked men approached their Hollymount Park home.

“My son shouted at me to get down. I saw the masked men at the door and them pushing something through the letterbox. I went running down the stairs. I thought it was a pipebomb. I was just on my nerves, so I lifted it and threw it away from the house,” the mother said.

When she went outside she found that the men had daubed graffiti on her wall, naming her 15 year-old son as a “dead man walking” and warning him he had 24 hours to leave the city.

The incident comes as part of what she describes as a “graffiti war” which has escalated since the murder of Top of the Hill man Andrew Allen earlier this year.

“My son has been accused of being a member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, or a member of RAAD. He’s 15 for God’s sake - what political association would he be part of?”

While she admits her son holds “strong Republican” views, she said he has never been in trouble. “He has spoken out against drug dealers and wee hoods. He makes his position on that very clear - and I would hardly criticise him for that.

“He has been targeted through Facebook, on BBM and now threats have been painted on our house. They are brave big bullies, aren’t they, threatening a 15 year-old boy?”

The mother said that people at the Top of the Hill are “too afraid to speak out” against those who are “keeping their own community prisoners in their own homes”.

“You can’t go to the police because you would be accused of being a tout and you can’t speak to anyone else. You’re caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. The place is lawless at the moment.”

Asserting that she would not be intimidated out of her home, the woman called on “all mothers from the estate” to come together.

“It’s time for this community to start being a community again,” she said.

Police are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the incident at Hollymount Park or who has any information is asked to contact detectives at Strand Road station on 0845 600 8000 or call the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.