Wednesday 24 July 2019

Warning against vigilante justice after violent assault on teen girl filmed

A teenage girl was left with severe facial injuries after an attack on Bangor Pier
A teenage girl was left with severe facial injuries after an attack on Bangor Pier

Jonathan Bell and David Young

Police have warned against vigilante justice "with fists or feet, with baseball bats or down the barrel of a gun" after a video showing a terrifying assault on a teenage girl was shared widely online.

The incident occurred at Bangor seafront last Friday.

A male youth has been charged with grievous bodily harm with intent and other offences after the shocking footage went viral on Sunday, sparking outrage.

It shows one girl savagely attack another as a crowd looked on. The teenager is pulled by the hair and repeatedly punched and kicked in the face.

The attacker also slams the girl's head onto concrete at one point. Two men are seen pouring fluids over the woman while shouting abuse in her face - despite the 16-year-old victim screaming that she can't breathe.

She can be heard screaming an apology while she desperately tries to protect her face from the continuous blows.

Off camera, one man can he heard telling the attacker to "bust her nose".

Thousands have watched the video, with many condemning the attack and voicing their disgust.

The victim has been inundated with messages of support.

A total of four people have been arrested - two 16-year-old girls, a 17-year-old male and a woman aged 18.

The male was in custody last night and is due in court today, while one 16 year-old has been released on bail pending further enquiries.

In an unusual step, Bangor PSNI took to Facebook last night to warn people not to take the law into her own hands. It also warned that social media comments could prejudice a future trial.

"A fair and balanced trial must be held in a court of law, where all the facts are presented and where legal representation is available," the PSNI posted.

"Justice must not be handed out by the community, with fists or feet, with baseball bats or down the barrel of a gun.

"These so-called enforcers are no better than those they accuse of using violence against others.

"Do not prejudge our investigation based on one social media post and one video clip. Using social media to threaten harm or violence, cause alarm, distress or harass, may be considered a criminal offence."

Chief Inspector Gerry McGrath said the victim was so badly hurt she will have to wait until next week for an X-ray for doctors to assess the true extent of her injuries.

He added: "We have identified all of the suspects involved, two of whom have been arrested.

"The others are being actively sought by police.

"While we appreciate the support of the local community and understand their shock at this assault, we would ask that members of the public do not use social media as a means of progressing this investigation."

Police have also told Facebook to remove the video while they work to apprehend the others involved in the assault.

"Some people on social networks are seeking to encourage the use of street justice in response to a violent and vicious attack - that is not the solution," said the Chief Inspector.

Belfast Telegraph

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