Terrified mum: I won't let dissidents kill my family
Desperate mum-of-four Kelly Hardy goes to bed armed with a kitchen knife.
The 41-year-old said she is so terrified of a dissident hate campaign that she is constant fear of attack.
With tears streaming down her face Kelly – who’s a full-time care worker – shows us how she has stuffed knives and screwdrivers down the sides of all her sofas and chairs in fear that she may have to defend her family.
For the past seven months she and her family have been the target of a so-called republican group who have assaulted her, sent her bullets in the post, smashed all her windows and even petrol bombed the home with the whole family inside.
Things have got so bad for the Twinbrook family she even caught her 16-year-old disabled son sleeping with a samurai sword in his bed.
The cowardly criminals had wanted her to withdraw police statements after they were attacked by a mob but even when they did so the attacks continued.
Now Kelly says she has been left with no choice but to go public in an attempt to get moved out of her Twinbrook home.
Struggling to hold back tears, Kelly said yesterday: “I’m terrified for my kids, I’m really worried one of them is going to get killed.
“We dropped the charges last Monday but two days later we got fresh death threats. When I found my son, who has learning difficulties, was sleeping with a sword in his bed I cried. I’m begging the Housing Executive to get me out of Twinbrook immediately. All they have offered me is homes in Derry, Strabane, Newry and Portadown.
“But I work as a care worker in Belfast and I can’t move that far away. Apparently I’m top of the list but they still can’t find me anything. I work and pay rent so they should be treating me better than this.”
So fearful is she of her family’s safety she has sent her kids to stay with family and friends.
“I’m close to a nervous breakdown and have taken time off work but I’m going to have to go back because Christmas is round the corner. I’m a care worker and I’m having to sleep with knives at the ready. It’s crazy but if I have to defend my family I will.”
Kelly says the trouble started in April when she got into a minor spat with a man who has links to a dissident republican group.
“This guy sent me a text about his girlfriend who’s a friend of mine and when I saw him I challenged him about it,” says Kelly.
“He started pointing his finger in my face so I twisted it.
“My ex-husband was with me and he got involved in a shouting match but nothing more.
“Ten minutes later I had three car-loads of people at my front door. It was mixture of women and men and we got battered. My ex-husband had his shoulder broken.”
Kelly says both her and her ex-husband made statements to the police and wanted the people prosecuted.
And that’s when the intimidation started.
“First I got two bullets through the post with my name on them then the first death threat was delivered from the PSNI telling us that criminal elements were planning to kill me.
“Then two fellas came to our door and told me if both me and my ex didn’t drop the charges then either my ex-husband or my eldest son would be shot dead.
“I went nuts, my head was fried, I just couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I didn’t want to drop the charges but I thought I was going to have to.
“Then one night after I’d worked a 12-hour shift I was lying in the bath when all hell broke loose.
“They threw a petrol bomb at the house but because our living room is on the second floor we only realised when our neighbour came over to put it out.
“My son was asleep on the sofa and we could all have been burnt to death.”
Shortly after that the gang returned and put all the downstairs windows in and yet more death threats were delivered by the police.
“The windows were left boarded up for four weeks after they got smashed, the Housing Executive only fixed them up recently,” says Kelly.
“My kids haven’t been going to school because I’m so worried – I don’t even let them go to the shop on their own in case someone tries to kidnap them.
“But now I’ve got Social Services on my back because they are missing school but what can I do?
“Last Monday I couldn’t take it anymore and I went down to Musgrave Police Station and withdrew the charges. The officer could see the state I was in and he said he understood.
“I couldn’t believe it when new threats came warning me and the whole family that we would be killed. I just need to be moved out of here as soon as possible.”
The Sunday World were unable to contact the Housing Executive last night.