A musical collective set up to help aspiring musicians have praised the local community’s response after a man broke in and sledged through walls, causing widespread damage.
The one man wrecking spree at Link Academy occurred in the early hours of Friday morning and CCTV footage of the chain of events has now been handed over to the PSNI.
Volunteers at the Academy on Castle Street were stunned to come across the damage in every room in the premises on arrival at the facility.
Walls will now have to be re-plastered and re-painted and doors, frames and carpets will have to be replaced.
The Academy opened in November 2011 and children as young as five through to local bands are given the benefit of volunteers’ expertise and the use of proper equipment. Among those who give up their time for free are six music graduates from the University of Ulster who provide tuition for some of the users. Speaking about the apparently random attack, Paddy Danagher, who sits on the board of directors at Link, said: “The guy got away with about £40 in cash he had robbed from the place but the major damage has been done to the building and it is structural. He sledged through walls when he couldn’t get doors opened. It seems absolutely crazy. Police have taken the footage and forensics have been in because he cut himself on the glass.”
Mr Danagher said the man captured in the footage appeared to have been under the influence of something, and may have been trying to find the CCTV controls once he realised there were cameras inside the building.
He added that as news has spread about the episode, it has resulted in a great response which highlights the “really good community spirit” that exists locally.
“We have a team of about 15 people here trying to get the place operational and everyone involved, even indirectly, have been great. There’s no staff here, everybody is volunteers and give a couple of hours of their time to do reception, dust, clean. If we need to paint a room we do it ourselves. “Every year we pick 12 groups from the city and give them the studio for the full year free. You have young engineers working for free.
“Everybody has been so helpful this week and even people who are not involved have been sending messages, with plasterers saying they will give up their free time, people like that.
“Thankfully no equipment has been damaged and we are covered with the insurance for the structural damage. Hopefully now we will get back to normal and the guy who did this can be located.”