Rally in support of assault victim told scene of attack a 'no-go area'
Bangor residents say that anti-social behaviour in the vicinity where a teenage girl was attacked last Friday is making the town's marina a "no-go area".
Shocked residents in the coastal town yesterday told the Belfast Telegraph that some people are "afraid" to visit the sea front due to large groups of youths congregating there.
Fisherman Hamilton Thompson (75) said the marina area was "known for anti-social behaviour with youngsters".
He stated: "I have seen them down here as young as 12 smoking and drinking.
"If you go there at night you'll see 14 and 15-year-olds drinking. Some can't stand.
"They go up the pier with bags of drink, sometimes they sit among the rocks so they aren't seen.
"This area is known for anti-social behaviour with youngsters. They are intimidating local people. Some local people are afraid to come down here.
"The whole marina has become a 'no-go area'."
Cafe Brazilia waitress Victoria McAleese (23) described the video of the attack as "the most horrendous thing I have ever seen".
"Bangor is well known for anti-social behaviour, especially that sort of age group - 15,16," she said.
"You see groups of them congregating in different places.
"After Friday's attack I would say people would feel unsafe at night. An elderly gentleman was in this morning and he said that one night a group of youngsters had spat in his face."
Rostrevor woman Erin Valkema was on a day trip to the Co Down town with her husband Peter and four children, including four-day-old baby Primrose.
The local mum was unaware that the area where her children were playing innocently was where the attack had taken place.
"I think it is quite shocking, just terrible," she said.
"I didn't realise it was right here in this area.
"It would definitely make us think twice about coming here.
"It is quite scary as a parent, and it would definitely put me off coming back to Bangor on evenings and weekends."
David McCullough (60), whose nursery sales business has been on Bangor Marina since 1961, described the attack as "horrific".
"Bangor is normally a fairly peaceful wee place," he explained.
"This is dreadful.
"You would really hope it's a one-off.
"It's not good for businesses and it doesn't encourage families to come to Bangor, particularly with young children. I feel for this wee girl and her family. I think the community needs to come together to show that this won't be tolerated."
A fundraising page set up in aid of the alleged victim by Lisburn woman Susan Durrant had raised over £3,100 (€3,536) at the time of going to press.
"I started a collection on Sunday to make the young girl feel better, and I didn't think it would raise £200 (€228)," she revealed.
"I can't believe how generous people have been - as well as the money, she has been offered gifts including a holiday and beauty treatments.
"I'm hoping it's a comfort to her and her family."
A show of support for the alleged victim was held at Bangor Marina yesterday evening.
Chief Inspector Gerry McGrath said that the PSNI "regularly patrol" the area where the alleged attack took place, "both on foot and in vehicles".
He added: "The community can be assured that if police note any young people committing criminal offences, they will be robustly dealt with."