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Blaze terror Man living in fear after loyalists set his home on fire and smashed windows

The 30-year-old escaped with his life last Saturday night when thugs poured petrol through the letterbox of his Harryville home in Ballymena and set it alight.

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Paul Beggs, 30, from Ballymena claimed  masked men he believed were loyalists poured petrol through his letter box and put set it alight last week.

Paul Beggs, 30, from Ballymena claimed masked men he believed were loyalists poured petrol through his letter box and put set it alight last week.

Paul Beggs

Paul Beggs

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Paul Beggs, 30, from Ballymena claimed masked men he believed were loyalists poured petrol through his letter box and put set it alight last week.

The victim of an attempted murder bid last weekend has pleaded with paramilitaries to leave him alone.

Paul Beggs says he's been the target of attacks since he was a teenager and got his first beating at just 14.

He admits he's done time for a series of offences but says he's trying to tackle his drug addiction and start again.

"I'm no angel, but everyone deserves a second chance," he says.

"I'm trying to get off drugs and I just want a quiet life, but I'm still getting hassle."

The 30-year-old escaped with his life last Saturday night when thugs poured petrol through the letterbox of his Harryville home in Ballymena and set it alight.

As he battled to stop the flames spreading through his home, the attackers smashed two of his windows before fleeing.

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Paul Beggs said he is now living in fear for his life.

Paul Beggs said he is now living in fear for his life.

Paul Beggs said he is now living in fear for his life.

Paul says he only survived because he was up watching television when the incident happened. He suspects local loyalist paramilitaries were behind the attack.

"I was in watching TV and the next thing I heard a sound like water running. I ran out to the hall and as I put my eye to the spyhole in the door to see who was there, they set the petrol alight.

"The door went up in flames and I jumped back. I grabbed the mop bucket and threw water on the fire. As soon as they set the petrol alight, they ran and smashed my windows.

"My nerves have been gone for a while now and I can't take much more."

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Paul Beggs, who lives in Ballymena, has a criminal past

Paul Beggs, who lives in Ballymena, has a criminal past

Paul Beggs, who lives in Ballymena, has a criminal past

Paul, originally from Larne, was jailed for eight months in 2017 for a series of motoring offences after he led police on a 30-mile high-speed car chase. He was initially detected driving the wrong way down a one-way street in Limavady and hit speeds of 80mph in a built-up area before being arrested in Ballymena when the car ran out of fuel. He had a plaster cast on his leg at the time.

In April 2020 he was convicted of affray, possession of an offensive weapon and criminal damage after he and an associate attacked two cars with hatchets. He admitted to damaging a Corsa belonging to a teenage boy in the October 2019 incident, as well as attacking a Seat Ibiza with two 17-year-old girls inside.

He claimed it was a case of mistaken identity after he'd been set upon by a masked gang, who he then chased with hatchets. Beggs told police he had been drinking and taking drugs all day. He was given six months in prison and a further six months on licence.

After his release from prison, he moved to Ballymena in January. He has sought help from the community addiction team, taking daily medication to overcome his drugs problems.

He was back in court again last month charged with threatening his ex-girlfriend. During the incident in March, he said he would slit her throat if she slept with anyone else and called her a number of abusive names. He also threatened to attack her home.

Paul pleaded guilty to three offences - making a threat to kill, harassment, and persistent and improper use of a communication network.

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Paul Beggs

Paul Beggs

Paul Beggs

He was given a five-month sentence, suspended for three years.

He says he is now determined to stay clean and out of trouble but fears for his future if the attacks against him continue. He has no idea what prompted last weekend's arson attack on his home.

"I have had problems since I was 14. I've been beaten with hammers and had seven or eight boys on me at once.

"I didn't go to prison until I was 25 and now I just want to get on the right path.

"I have got help for my drug addiction and I'm three years clean. I take the medication every day to get over it. I've got myself on a prescription and I'm not taking drugs and still they are giving me hassle."

Paul says he's struggling with depression and has thought about suicide. He also fears leaving his home in case he's attacked.

"I want to stay clean and to be left alone. If I'm not bothering them why are they bothering me?

"If they don't leave me alone, they'll push me back onto drugs, or I'll throw the rope up.

"They have bothered me enough. Why can't they just leave me in peace?" he says.

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