Saturday 21 April 2018

Cancer-surviving granddad dragged from car and attacked by a stranger metres from front door

Charles Hill
Charles Hill

Claire O'Boyle

A grandfather told last night how he was dragged from his car and kicked in the head by a total stranger just yards from his front door.

Cancer survivor Charlie Hill (72) from west Belfast was on his way to see his doctor when the thug stopped his car, opened the passenger door and started throwing punches.

"I'd never seen this man in my life," said Charlie, who has lived in the Blacks Road area for more than 50 years. He was shouting in at me about people I'd never heard of, and then came round the front of the car to my door."

It was then things got even more terrifying when the thug opened the retired bus driver's door and pulled him out into the road.

"This man could kill," said Charlie, who suffers from diabetes. "I've had punches over the years and even been hit full smack with a hurling bat, but this was something else.

"I was knocked out and the doctors thought he might have broken my jaw.

"He has to be caught. Not just because of what he's done to me, but because he is dangerous. I'm a hard wee man from the Glens of Antrim, but if he attacked somebody else like he attacked me, they could be in very serious danger."

Luckily for Charlie, who is well known and loved in the area after more than 25 years of incredible charity work, the attacker was disturbed just as the situation was about to get even more serious.

"I'd only gone 30 yards from the door when this happened," said Charlie. "But my neighbour luckily drove up the road. God love him because he was worried to intervene - he's not a young man either and he wouldn't have been able to take this guy on.

"But he just stopped and wandered off down the road like he hadn't a care in the world."

Charlie's daughter Nuala said the family were horrified at what had happened.

"It's unbelievable that this happened right in the middle of the afternoon, unprovoked in broad daylight. We have no idea who this man was, but he was shouting about some family he said daddy knew. Daddy hadn't a clue what he was talking about."

Nuala said the whole community was in shock because of how well-known and liked Charlie is.

"Daddy had bowel cancer 27 years ago," she said. "And when he was in the hospital, the doctor joked with him, asking if he could find a spare £46,000 for a piece of equipment.

"Daddy said, 'If you can get me out of this hospital, I'll get you whatever you need.'" And that's when his charity work began. Not only did Charlie raise the £46,000 needed for a colonoscopy machine at the Royal Victoria Hospital, but he went well over his target. And after catching the charity bug, he carried on raising cash for charity. He also collected toys for a young Cork girl born with rare syndrome Tetra-amelia, and fundraised for leukaemia sufferers and victims of the Kosovo crisis.

"Daddy's a local hero, so for something like this to happen to him is shocking for everyone," said Nuala. "My mummy, who's under the weather at the minute, is absolutely devastated that he's been hurt. It was terrifying. But as usual, he's more concerned about other people than himself and wants to make sure this man is off the streets so he can't do something even worse to another innocent person."

Charlie said the man was around 5ft 7ins tall, about 40 years of age, well built, wearing a woollen hat, a navy jacket and jeans.

Belfast Telegraph

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