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Hijack victim recovering from ordeal

Thursday, 1 June 2017

THE disabled victim "viciously" attacked by two men who hijacked his vehicle outside Sixmilecross in the early hours of Bank Holiday Monday has spoken out about his 'traumatising' experience.

Police are appealing for witnesses following the hijacking of a black Nissan Qashqai car in the Shane Road area, about two miles from the village, at around 3am.

The driver of the car, who has a disability, was flagged down by two men and then dragged out of the vehicle, police have said. They assaulted him and also removed his glasses before driving off in his car.

 The victim, who uses crutches, made his way with some difficulty to a neighbouring house, where he was able to call for help. The car was found crashed into a bridge, a short distance away.

One of his assailants is described as being of large build with short, shaved hair and wearing jeans and a blue shirt.  The second male is said to be of medium build, in his late 20s or early 30s with short dark hair. Both had pale complexions and one spoke with a foreign accent.

There had not been any arrests made in relation to the incident at the time of going to press yesterday afternoon (Tuesday).

The victim, aged in his 50s, lives in Beragh having moved from Scotland around 20 years ago. He did not wish to be named, but spoke about the incident from his home where he is recovering from his ordeal.

After being flagged down by the two men, the victim told our reporter that he asked them if they were OK and if they needed a lift. "The only word I heard from them the whole time was 'yes'."

He added that the men proceeded to drag him out of his car "head first" and across the road. He has visible scratches and cuts on his head, arms and stomach.

"I can't remember how exactly I got to a nearby house. It all happened so quickly. But I would like to express my thanks to the family who helped me. They stayed with me all night and the police were also excellent."

He continued: "The men never communicated - that was the most frightening thing. It's the first time I've ever felt vulnerable."

The man, who suffers from Cervical Disc Disease - which can cause radiating pain, as well as numbness and weakness in the body - said he is still in shock.

"I have lived in big cities and you know incidents like this can happen. But never in this community. I have always felt safe here. I never expected something like this to happen here. But I don't believe anyone local was responsible for this and it hasn't put me off the area. Ninety-nine per cent of people that live here are great people."

 

His partner described it as a "vicious attack on a kind-hearted man".

"There doesn't appear to be a motive behind it. The whole thing doesn't add up, it doesn't make sense. You hear about such incidents in other places, but it only really hits home when it happens to you or a family member. It still hasn't sunk in properly yet.

"It takes a certain type of person to carry out such an attack. He is the last person to deserve this, he's very placid and generous, kind-hearted. We're just thankful because it could have been a lot worse."

Continuing, she urged the community to remain vigilant.

"It is scary that these people haven't been caught. We wanted to share our story to make people aware and to ensure no one else suffers in this way. An incident like this affects a lot of people and everyone in the family is suffering."

The victim said the support from the local community has been "fantastic"

"I have received so many phone calls, emails and so many people have visited," he added.

 

Meanwhile, condemning the incident, candidate in the upcoming Westminster elections, Ciaran McClean, who lives in Sixmilecross, said: "It is very shocking that this action was carried out on a man with such a disability. You don't often hear of hijacking, particularly in a small village like Sixmilecross.

"I would urge anyone with any information to contact the police. I hope the perpetrators are brought to justice because this is not what society needs.

"My thoughts are with the victim. It must have been a very traumatising experience for him. I hope he recovers from this ordeal."

Mid Tyrone councillor, Bert Wilson, also spoke of his shock. He added: "It's another incident of rural crime and highlights the need for a more visible police presence in the area."

Police continue to investigate the incident. Sergeant Gerry Kelly said: "We are appealing to anyone who has any information that could help us with our investigation to get in contact with police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 178 of 29/5/17.

 "Alternatively, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111."

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