BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Gang attacks youth with bars

Last Updated: Sunday, 30 November, 2003, 16:45 GMT

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Gang attacks youth with bars

The son of a man who lost both legs after being assaulted by loyalist paramilitaries six years ago has been attacked in Belfast.

Drew Peden, 17, needed 37 staples to a head wound and sustained severe bruising after being set upon by a gang of men on the Crumlin Road in the north of the city.

The incident happened as the youth was walking past the Flax Street mill between 0100 GMT and 0200 GMT on Sunday.

The teenager said four masked men got out of a car and attacked him with iron bars.

"They beat me with bats first," he said.

"After that, they pulled my hat over my head.

They put something on my leg and asked me did I know what it was.

"I said: 'Yes, a gun'.

"They said: 'Do you know what we'll do with you if you keep squealing? We'll put you in that boot, and do you right.'"

The teenager suffered bruising to his back, arms and legs in the attack.

Drew's mother Linda said the assault was vicious.

"They took his clothes off him. A taxi driver saw him lying at the side of the road unconscious," she said.

"He had about five, big, deep lacerations to is head, blood everywhere and bad lacerations from his face right down to his feet.

"I'd say there's 50 welt marks where they beat him with the iron bars and they stuffed something in his mouth so he couldn't scream."

Drew's father, Andrew, had both his legs amputated after an Ulster Volunteer Force attack in 1998.

Last August, Drew Peden was shot in the legs by loyalists.

He also lost part of his hand when a pipe bomb blew up in a shed at his parents' home.

The teenager said he believed Sunday morning's attack on him was sectarian, but the police said they were keeping an open mind about the motive.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the police.

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