A Strabane pensioner has accused “hoods” of waging a four year campaign of harassment and intimidation against his family.
Paddy Gilloway (67) broke his silence after acid was thrown over his car while parked outside his home in Springhill Park in the nationalist Head-of-the-Town area in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Mr Gilloway said it followed previous attacks on vehicles belonging to his son and granddaughter and vowed to pursue the culprits through the courts when he establishes who the perpetrators are.
Mr Gilloway accused those responsible of “pretending to be republicans” who believe they are “untouchable.”
The Strabane man had parked his Citroen Picasso outside his home shortly after 5am on Saturday morning. The damage was discovered just over an hour later, suggesting the culprits had been watching his movements.
Speaking to the Journal, Mr Gilloway said: “On Friday night between 5 and 6am, somebody threw a pile of acid over the top of my car and destroyed the paintwork.” He said the acid had even melted the lights.
Mr Gilloway said: “I haven’t fallen out with anybody, if there is a problem nobody approached me about it. There has been a campaign of harassment and intimidation going on against my family for the past four years.
“Last year my son’s van was burned at the front of his house in Ballindrait. He wasn’t in the house at the time and his wife and three children - one of whom was just two days old - had to be rescued by neighbours. A few months ago my granddaughter had all four tyres slashed on her car at Fountain Park.”
Mr Gilloway continued: “I feel pretty bad that somebody should target me. This was obviously pre-planned. These are obviously hoods - I don’t know if they are drugged up to the eyeballs or what. I can’t understand what their idea is but they are going to achieve nothing. I have played it cool and not publicised the attacks until now so as not to inflame the situation but obviously this crowd see it as a sign of weakness.
“I am not going to lie down to these thugs and I am not going to live my life in fear. Any information I can get on this crowd I will be passing on to the proper authorities; I will go the full way to the courts. I don’t want any hassle but at the end of the day I want to live in peace. I am sure some of these guys, their parents are pretty decent people and they have got caught up with the wrong gang. I think there are young people under a false sense of security, pretending to be republicans, when they can’t even spell it. They think they are untouchable.”
Police in Strabane have appealed for information on the “criminal damage”.
A PSNI spokeswoman told the Journal: “At 7am [on May 14] it was reported that a vehicle had a corrosive liquid poured over it causing extensive damage to the paintwork. It is believed the cost of the damage is approximately £1,000. Anyone who has any information is asked to contact police in Strabane on 0845 600 8000. Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”