Priest 'attempted to intervene' in paedophile vigilante attack
A priest attempted to intervene when two on-the-run sex offenders were being beaten by a mob with iron bars in a south Armagh village, a witness has said.
A woman, who asked not to be named, told the BBC that local priest Father John Heagney tried to intervene during the assault which saw child rapist James White (48) and paedophile Alexis Guesto (26) chained to a bench, covered in grey paint, and hit with iron bars during a “brutal attack” on Saturday.
Both men were being hunted by the PSNI when the pair were discovered by a group of men in Mullaghbawn.
The witness said: “They kicked them in the head. They beat them with sticks. They jeered. They took pictures of them.
“I thought one of them was dead. We went for the priest and he immediately came down and tried to plead with them. I know they had to be taken out of the community - but not like that.”
Fr John Heagney confirmed that he tried to intervene but declined to be interviewed.
The woman said up to 100 people witnessed the incident, which she said had damaged the reputation of the south Armagh village.
“People were saying we’d rather go to Syria than to south Armagh now,” she said.
White was recalled to prison on Monday while Guesto, also known as Jason Lydiard, appeared at Newry Crown Court on a bench warrant and has been remanded in custody.
The pair were wanted in Northern Ireland for a range of offences, including breach of licence and warrants.
Sources have told the Belfast Telegraph they believed the sex offenders had been hiding out in nearby Glendesha Forest.
The PSNI has said they are treating the actions against the pair as “serious assault”.