NewsCrime Desk

Thugs held father of one down and tried to crucify him

Paul Harbinson
Paul Harbinson

Masked raiders tried to nail Paul Harbinson’s feet to the floor in a ghoulish ‘crucifixion.’

The 23-year-old was still reel­ing from the horror of having 10-inch nails hammered through the palms of his hands as his attackers attempted to pin him to kitchen floor of his home.

The barbaric attack has plumbed new depths in a community numbed by decades of paramilitary-style attacks.

Dragged from the sofa of his home at Florence Walk in north Belfast on Thursday evening by a gang of masked men, he was beaten, held down and forced to lay his hands palms up on the kitchen counter as 10-inch nails were driven through both hands.

Not content with the cruelty inflict­ed, the gang leader then ordered for the Shankill man’s shoes and socks to be removed as they set about a repeat performance on his feet.

Today the Sunday World reveals the full extent of the attack.

Speaking exclusively from a secret location outside Belfast the father of one spoke of his horrific ordeal and revealed how he managed to escape a full crucifixion.

“I was in shock, adrenalin running through me so I didn’t really feel anything,” he said.

“But when I heard him saying about my socks and shoes I realised they were going to hammer my feet to the floor as well and that’s when I react­ed. I tried to pull my hands from the counter, but they were nailed tight,” Paul told the Sunday World.

“They started beating the f**k out of me so I pulled my head in and just kept jumping around the place trying to make sure they couldn’t get my feet, and they gave up.”

 Paul, whose family is from the Shankill area, had just returned from staying at his girlfriend’s house when the monsters pounced.

“We had just sat down after putting the child to bed when the back door came flying in,” he recalled.

“The next thing I know I am dragged off the settee. Someone was screaming ‘get into the f**king kitchen’.

“I hadn’t a clue what was going on, I was asking them what I was supposed to have done, but they just kept screaming. They told me to put my hands out and when I refused he told me if I didn’t he would put the hammer right through my face.

“When I saw the bag of nails I knew, the next thing the nails were getting hammered through my hands and for some reason I couldn’t feel a thing, I just watched. It didn’t hurt, it was the adrenaline. I can feel them now though, the pain is bad.”

Paul’s new girlfriend Amy was dragged into the hall and forced to sit on the stairs while a member of the gang watched over her.

They tried to take her from the house, but she pleaded with them to let her stay as she had a one-year-old son sleeping upstairs.

“I was terrified, but I was trying not to cry or scream,” she said.

“I sat with my head in my hands as I heard them beating Paul. When I heard them saying about taking his shoes off I knew what they were doing to him and there was nothing I could do. I was terrified for him and my wee one”

Paul was nailed to the kitchen coun­ter for almost one hour until the fire service came to his rescue.

One of the 10-inch nails was removed from the kitchen worktop by industrial clip­pers. The other, which had been embedded in the cupboard below, had to be electrically sawn off .

“I am just glad that my girlfriend was there with me be­cause I wouldn’t have been able to call for help. I would have been there for I don’t know how long before someone came to help.

“I genuinely don’t know why this has been done to me. I have done nothing to deserve this and they have given me no reason for the at­tack. The people who did this to me are sick.”

In the wake of the sickening attack, local sources laid the blame on the UDA in the Lower Shankill area, headed up by thugs Mo Courtney and Matt Kincaid.

Loyalist sources also claim that the UDA have since accused Paul of drug dealing and breaking into people’s houses, stating this is the reason he was assaulted and that he had received a warning three weeks ago.

Paul denies all of their claims.

“I have never sold drugs or meth in my life,” he declared.

“I used to buy the illegal high 4CMC of the internet, but I never sold to an­yone, they were for me and my mates and that was about a year ago. As for housebreaking, never, I just wouldn’t do that, I wouldn’t steal.

“To be honest I don’t know who attacked me because I haven’t been back and my phone was taken. UVF or UDA, it doesn’t matter to me at this stage because no-one should do some­thing like this to anyone. It’s sick.”

He said the truth about the attack will emerge.

“I genuinely don’t know why this was done to me, I have always kept myself to myself in the Shankill, I never socialised there or an­ything and I only moved back. I really have no idea but I will find out, it’s only a matter of time before someone spills,” he explained.

Paul, who has no criminal convic­tions, has insisted he will never return to the area he was born and raised.

“Whoever did this can go f**k them­selves, the lot of them can. I will never be back, what way is that to live? I just wish my family would leave too.”