A 38-year-old woman is in critical condition after a horror attack with a cordless drill in Strabane, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.
The woman, described as a “gentle soul” by her friends, reportedly sustained a life threatening injury from a drill attack at around 2:00 A.M. on Saturday morning, after closing time for the town's night clubs.
Police arrested a 17-year-old man near the scene and say they believe the attack may have had a homophobic motive. Now the shocking case is making international headlines.
After the center of town was reportedly sealed off for an investigation, Irish News reporter Leona O'Neill was on the scene to capture horrifying footage of the woman's blood being hosed off the street by a council worker.
A council worker cleans blood from the scene of last night’s assault on Railway Street in #Strabane. A 38-year-old woman was attacked with a cordless drill at 2am. Her condition is described as critical. Police say they are questioning a teenager in connection with the incident pic.twitter.com/ru9toT9OET— Leona O'Neill (@LeonaONeill1) May 5, 2018
Detective Sergeant Brian Reid told the press: “This was a brutal attack and the injuries sustained by the victim are extremely grave."
“We are exploring a possible homophobic motive for the crime and we are appealing for witnesses to get in touch with us.”
“We would like to hear from anyone who may have seen a male carrying a drill in the area at around the time of the assault and we would especially like to speak to anyone who may have captured footage, either on a mobile phone or a dashcam.”
The 17 year old is currently in custody. It is suspected that someone may have filmed the attack on their mobile phone.
SDLP assembly member for West Tyrone, Daniel McCrossan, told the press it was “one of the most horrific incidents” he had had ever heard of during his time as a politician.
“It is a monstrous attack and one that has sent shockwaves across the entirety of the wider Strabane community today,” he added. “I actually felt sick, that this could happen.”
The woman who was attacked last night in Strabane had her skull drilled into by her attacker. Local SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan says the details of the attack left him physically sick pic.twitter.com/WrI6EZ4Bt7— Leona O'Neill (@LeonaONeill1) May 5, 2018
In recent years homophobic incidents have spiked in the town. In 2013 Donegal News journalists Conor Sharkey reported that recorded homophobic incidents in Strabane had tripled over the previous 12 months. Local LGBT community members said that the rise was due to an increase in reporting rather than incidents however.
Reports of homophobic incidents in Strabane triple in 12 months. LGBT say the rise is in reporting rather than incidents though.— Conor Sharkey (@ConorSharkeySC) September 11, 2013
Meanwhile violent hate crimes against gay people have spiraled in Northern Ireland over the past decade and hundreds of homophobic incidents were recorded last year alone, police statistics show.
In 2017 the PSNI recorded 264 incidents with a homophobic motivation in the year to June 30. Of those incidents, 152 crimes were committed, including violence, theft and criminal damage.
The local community are in “total shock” according to Corey French, a friend of the Strabane woman who told reporter Leona O'Neill that the woman who was attacked was a "beautiful lady with a heart of gold."
Corey French, a friend of the #Strabane woman in critical condition after suffering a drill attack in the town last night, says she is a gentle soul and that the community are in total shock pic.twitter.com/pXdtuRLg5s— Leona O'Neill (@LeonaONeill1) May 5, 2018
Sinn Fein West Tyrone MLA Michaela Boyle told the press: “People are absolutely numb with shock at the horrific nature of this attack perpetrated against this woman and the thoughts of everyone are with the victim and her family at this time.
“My hope is that she can pull through from the life-threatening injuries which she has sustained.”
“Police are also reporting that there could be a homophobic element to this horrific attack, which only adds to the sense of outrage felt in the community.”
It's stayed with me all day. Not been able to get that image out of my head. The sheer horror that poor woman faced & felt. It's incomprehensible to try & understand how anyone could do this it really is💔You are in my prayers, stay strong beautiful lady❤🙇♀️ #Strabane— Alicia V Perry🌍 (@aliciavperry) May 5, 2018