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Friday 20 September 2019

Homophobic motive probed as teen (17) charged with drill attack on woman (38)

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Leona O'Neill

A TEENAGE boy will appear in court this morning charged with causing grievous bodily harm after a 38-year-old woman was left in intensive care after being attacked with a drill.

Mother-of-one Brenda McLaughlin was attacked by a person wielding the cordless drill as she walked home alone at 2am from a night out at a bar in Railway Street, Strabane, Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland.

Police said Ms McLaughlin sustained "a very serious head injury" and remains in Altnagelvin Hospital's Intensive Care Unit where a spokesperson described her condition as "stable".

Police said a homophobic motive for the attack was one line of investigation and they appealed for witnesses to get in touch.

Corey French, a friend of Ms McLaughlin, said the family were keeping a bedside vigil.

"I have been speaking to the family and she is doing a little better," he said. "She is still in the Intensive Care Unit, but she has been able to sit up and talk. She is still very ill but she is showing some progress, thank goodness.

"I know that she will be very encouraged to hear that everyone is supporting her. Brenda is such a lovely, gentle person that it will take her a very long time to get over this.

"She is a good person, who is always up for a laugh and goes out of her way to be friendly. It will take her time to overcome this ordeal, but if I know her the way I think I do, she'll be fighting to make progress in her own way.

"The family are really devastated, they are really upset."

The 17-year-old was detained a short distance away from the incident and, late on Saturday evening, police charged him with grievous bodily harm with intent, possession of an offensive weapon, and theft. He is to appear at Omagh Magistrates Court this morning.

PSNI Detective Sergeant Brian Reid said: "This was a brutal attack and the injuries sustained by the victim are extremely grave.

"We are exploring a possible homophobic motive for the crime and we are appealing for witnesses.

"We would like to hear from anyone who may have seen a male carrying a drill in the area at around the time of the assault and we would especially like to speak to anyone who may have captured footage, either on mobile phone or dashcam."

Irish Independent

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