Teen nearly dies after vicious broken bottle attack
The sister of a teenager whose face was slashed in a "horrifying" stabbing has urged witnesses to come forward to police.
Vikki Gough also appealed for no retaliation following the attack on her 19-year-old brother Kevin Thompson, who was "minutes from death" following the incident in north Belfast on Saturday.
Kevin, from the Ardoyne area, was out with friends when he was attacked with a broken bottle. He was taken to hospital with a serious cheek laceration and had been in a critical condition before doctors stabilised him yesterday.
A 17-year-old was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and is being questioned by police.
Vikki said she believed her brother - known as KJ to friends - was trying to avoid trouble and was on his way home when he was attacked in Harcourt Drive shortly after 7pm.
She claimed there was also an attempt to bite her brother's ear off, and that he also had cuts to his arms before being stabbed in a "C shape from ear to jaw and jaw to neck".
Learning of what happened to Kevin the following morning, Vikki said: "My reaction was one of just utter shock and terror at what was happening.
"He had been in surgery and the doctor updated us - had he come in a few minutes later there would have been nothing they could have done.
"He lost almost all his own blood. They had to get a specialist surgeon to work on his face. Now there is possible nerve damage to his face. He was critical because of the blood loss.
"The doctors said the next 24 hours would be important. He had been sedated all night and has been on very high doses of pain medication. Kevin has now started to come round, but it is confusing for him at the minute. He does not know what has happened."
Vikki said her mother and the wider family were relieved to see him starting to regain consciousness but were still concerned.
"We just want to say to anyone who has any information, no matter how small the detail, to give this to police," she said.
"KJ's friends and other young people in the community - please do not retaliate in revenge. You will end up putting yourself and other people in danger. Keep yourselves safe.
"This is horrifying for us. Kevin was minutes away from death."
Vikki (29) said Kevin is a much-loved "baby brother" and was "very kind-hearted".
She said her brother "had his troubles in the past" but had gained qualifications in construction and was looking forward to working in the industry and enjoying his new flat.
"It is utterly shocking," she added. "Me and him are very close. He relies on me for everything.
"We don't want to see anyone else put their lives at risk."
Local Sinn Fein councillor JJ Magee has condemned the stabbing.
"This incident has shocked the local community in north Belfast," he said.
"I hope that the victim can make a full recovery from his injuries.
"It highlights once again the dangers of knife crime on our streets.
"I would call on anyone with information on this incident to come forward and assist the police investigation."
SDLP councillor Paul McCusker also appealed for anyone with information to contact the PSNI.
"It certainly was a vicious attack," he said.
"The victim is stable now but was in a life-threatening condition at one stage."
Mr McCusker said a motive had yet to be established but understood an anti-social incident "went seriously wrong".
"There could have been a life lost," he added.
"We have an issue of anti-social behaviour in north Belfast and we are working on that to see what we can do.
"We are looking at a strategy, myself and youth workers and residents, starting in the Girdwood area, in association with park wardens from the council. We want to get positive engagement from young people."
Detectives have appealed for anyone with information, or who witnessed the incident close to the junction of Harcourt Drive and Manor Street, off the Cliftonville Road, to contact them.
They are asked to contact detectives at Musgrave PSNI station on 101, quoting reference number 1285 of 17/09/16.
Alternatively they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak anonymously on 0800 555 111.