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Horror wounds 'It's been 6 months since my son was left with serious injuries... and the police have done nothing'

Mum's fury as thugs chase and batter her boy (15) but no one has been arrested

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Wound: The boy was left with a terrible 8cm gash on his head

Wound: The boy was left with a terrible 8cm gash on his head

The boy's bike which was stolen by the thugs

The boy's bike which was stolen by the thugs

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Wound: The boy was left with a terrible 8cm gash on his head

THE mum of a schoolboy beaten and robbed in a vicious sectarian attack has blasted the police investigation into the brutal assault, telling the Sunday World: “They’ve done absolutely nothing”.

Clare Hughes described the PSNI’s failure to take any action against the gang of thugs who chased and battered her 15-year-old son Flynn at a north Belfast interface six months ago as “unbelievable”.

The Belfast woman told the Sunday World: “It’s now been six months since my son, a child, was attacked in broad daylight, robbed and left with serious injuries whilst cycling on a busy street, and not one thing has been done about it by the police, and I want to know why?”

The Catholic teenager was set upon on the Limestone Road as he made his way home from an afternoon bike ride at around 9pm on Sunday, May 10.

Minutes before the attack, he had been confronted by a gang of up to 15 youths who had gathered close to the North Queen Street and Shore Road area.

The mob demanded to know what school he attended, before chasing the teenager.

As he attempted to cycle to safety a man walking his dog pushed the schoolboy from his bike, allowing the gang to catch up and carry out the violent assault.

The teen was repeatedly punched and beaten before his iPhone and bike were stolen.

Despite sustaining an 8cm gash to his head, the St Malachy’s College pupil managed to escape, running three miles to a family friend’s house where the alarm was raised.

Six months on, no-one has been arrested or questioned over the mindless assault despite information on at least one of the individuals involved being passed to police.

Clare said: “It’s got to the stage now where I feel nothing is going to be done for my son, so I feel I need to tell people that these things have been happening and nothing is being done about it,

“The police have done diddley squat – nothing, not a thing and that has been from the beginning.

“On the night my son was assaulted, I sent my daughter and her partner down to see if they could see anything.

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“She rang me and said they could see a crowd of boys with the bike.

“At that point a police officer took the phone off me and told my daughter to get out of the area and that they couldn’t prove it was Flynn’s bike.

“I even went down to the area myself in the days after that, in my own car, at around the same time it happened just to see if I could see anything.

“That entire time I did not see one police Land Rover in the area, it was as if nothing had happened. You would think that after such a serious attack on a child in a busy area there would be some sign of the police. It’s unbelievable.

“In fact, on the Sunday the police officer that came out to me told me he was going off duty until the Friday and would only start the investigation when he started back, five days later.

“I phoned the police myself on the Wednesday to ask why no-one had came out to get a statement off my son.

They then sent two different officers to take his statement. Since then, nothing has happened.

It has only ever been me contacting the police, not the other way around. I phoned them just after the Twelfth in July, to ask was there any sing of Flynn’s belongings.

“A police officer told me it had probably been taken apart and put on top of a bonfire. I was then told I was not to phone them again, that they would contact me if they had anything to go on.”

Shocking pictures taken moments after the attack show the serious injuries sustained by the schoolboy.

His head and clothes are covered in blood, and a large head wound is clearly visible.

“Thankfully Flynn was able to make it my friend’s house where she was able to control the bleeding to his head,” said Clare.

“By the time I got there, he was wrapped in blankets because he was shaking so much. He had a cut to his head, bumps to the back of his head, a bruise underneath his eye.

“It was horrendous, something no mummy should have to see.

“When I asked him what had happened, he told me that a crowd had jumped him.

“They stole his phone after he had took his phone out of his pocket to phone me because he thought that something bad was going to happen. He wanted to make sure I would know where to find him.

“It’s horrific to think that your son, or any child, is in that situation where they are getting assaulted.

“What is going through their head, are they going to be okay, what exactly is going to be the outcome of it.”

Flynn was taken to hospital where doctors had to glue the deep wound shut.

Six months on, the schoolboy is still traumatised.

“Flynn is a cross-country runner, before all of this he would have been out running almost every day,” said Clare.

“He would have thought nothing about going out and running a half-marathon. He doesn’t do it now, he’s too scared. He won’t even go out with his brother.

“It makes you so annoyed, because everything is out of your hands and it’s your child and someone has done this to your child.

“I was told that until I get evidence, they can’t do anything. What exactly is the PSNI’s job?

“There was a good load of them that attacked my son, including a grown man, and not one of them have been arrested.

“The only CCTV the police have is my son running home after he was assaulted but they have no CCTV, on the same road, of the man who came down the road with a dog and pushed him off his bike.

“It’s horrendous, I wouldn’t even call him a man, who would actually do that to a child especially when he sees so many boys chasing him.

“There are witnesses. After managed to run off, he stopped a number of cars and banged on windows. Every single one drove on, not one person helped him.

“Surely if you see a child who was injured in anyway, it doesn’t matter how, your own instincts would be to stop the car. I can’t understand how people could have done that.”

Clare has also been raising awareness of the attack carried out on her son and the police response, on social media.

In a hard-hitting, emotional post uploaded to a campaign page run by the family of teenager Noah Donohoe, whose body was found in a storm drain in north Belfast in June, she wrote: “My son has been described to me as the boy who got away if this is so who’s child is going to be next and hopefully fortunate enough like my son to escape these thugs.

“I have remained silent about this for too long not wanting to tread on Noah’s platform I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the ones who assaulted my son will never be brought to justice but I plead with the public to not let Noah’s death be the same.

“I do not ask for any speculation in comments I just want the public made aware of what can happen to our children if they venture into the (wrong area)”.

Noah, a 14-year-old who also attended St Malachy’s College, went missing after going on a bike ride across Belfast on Sunday, June 21.

His naked body was discovered six days later in a storm drain close to the north Belfast street he was last seen alive.

His belongings, including his clothes, had been found at various points around north Belfast.

He had been due to meet friends at Cavehill Country Park before on the day he disappeared.

A postmortem examination later revealed his cause of death to be drowning.

In August, a court heard that there is “no evidence” to suggest that any other person was involved in his death.

Coroner Joe McCrisken told a preliminary inquest into the death of the schoolboy that he wanted to set out “fact against fiction” in order to “dispel the many baseless and inaccurate rumours which continue to circulate”.

On Monday, a third preliminary hearing heard that “a number of evidential lines of inquiry” have now arisen from material PSNI have received to date. Barrister Declan Quinn said the court had received “a number of handwritten statements and materials” which will need to be “typed and processed”.

Mr Quinn also told the Coroner’s Court that the PSNI is investigating “health and safety” issues that may arise in this inquest.

The Donohoe family were represented in court by leading human rights solicitor Niall Murphy of KRW Law.

Mr Murphy told the court that Fiona Donohoe was preparing the “most traumatic and emotional statement” she would ever attempt in relation to her son’s death.

He also told how the family planned to set up a foundation in memory of the teenager.

Since his death, Noah’s family have set up a social media campaign in memory of the teenager.

They say that unanswered questions remain about his disappearance and death and continue to appeal for information.

In response to a query from the Sunday World on Ms Hughes’s claims, a PSNI spokesperson said: “The police investigation into this appalling attack is ongoing. Officers continue to ask witnesses or those with information to contact police on 101, quoting reference 1835 10/05/20.”

p.devlin@sundayworld.com

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