Attacked for defending his home

“I have been thinking about Kieran Milnes. I could be in jail just like him right now. The only thing is that I was badly attacked, and he wasn’t. I reacted exactly the same way – I lashed out.”
– Lagmore assault victim

A father of four who was attacked with a knife while defending his home has said he found himself reacting to his intruders the same way as the now imprisoned Kieran Milnes had, when he confronted a teenager he thought to be a car thief.

The man from Lagmore Meadows, who is still recovering from injuries he suffered after three teenagers attacked him with a knife and planks of wood, spoke exclusively to the Andersonstown News about his experience.

And he spoke of how he caught one of his teenage intruders and confronted him, just like West Belfast man Kieran Milnes who is now serving nine months for causing grievous bodily harm to a teenager in October 2002. Kieran was handed down the sentence after a 15-year-old boy attempted to steal his then girlfriend’s car from outside the home he shared with his 66-year old disabled mother in Springbank Close, Poleglass.

After he was sentenced last month, community leaders and politicians rallied together to protest about the rights of homeowners to protect their property.

Speaking from his Lagmore Meadows home the victim, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was badly shaken by the experience which took place on Friday night.

“I had just left the house in the car about 10 o’clock when I noticed two lads standing at the corner. I thought they looked a bit dodgy and as I drove down the street I kept an eye on them from my mirror.

“When I saw them move, I thought they were going to attack a bungalow at the corner. There’s a wee woman there who lives there on her own, so I turned back.

“When I got to my house I saw one of them jump over my fence. I parked the car and ran into the back garden. There were two of them, and when I arrived one of them ran away and I caught the other.

“We were struggling with each other when I got hit on the back of the head.

There was a third one and I hadn’t seen him. I don’t remember much after that, I must have fallen to my knees. I was out for the count. When I came to, they were gone.”

After he woke up the man said he went into his house to ring his wife, who was visiting her sister. He reached for his mobile on his belt and it was gone.
He rang his sister-in-law’s house and was just barely able to tell what had happened because he was having an asthma attack.

“I was lying on the stairs and I could hardly breathe and my body was sore all over,” the family man said.

“I was taken to hospital and they discovered I had been slashed with a knife at the neck and leg. There are bruises on my back where they must have hit me with planks of wood I had lying in the back garden. And they must have jumped on me, because there’s boot stains on the back of my t-shirt.

“I think my belt saved me, because they slashed it with a knife and it broke the knife. I still have it, with the blade sticking out of it.

“I had to be kept in overnight at the Royal Victoria Hospital and they took loads of x-rays to make sure my back was OK.

“The whole family is shaken up by this and I am going to have to take time off work. But it could have been worse. At least no one else in my family was hurt.

“But since it happened I have been thinking about Kieran Milnes. I could be in jail just like him right now. The only thing is that I was badly attacked, and he wasn’t. I reacted exactly the same way - I lashed out. I saw them as attacking my property and going for my van, which is my trade.

“If they had’ve got into the van, they would have walked away with thousands of pounds worth of tools.

“Stuff I have been buying for joinery work since I started in 1969. So I defended my job and home. What do you do in a situation like that when you’re overpowered? Or even when you’re not and you catch one, do you say ‘you hold on there til I get the police’ – I don’t think so.”

Local Sinn Féin MLA Michael Ferguson has re-issued his appeal for the British legal system to review the law.

“This man, like Kieran Milnes, caught two people trying to steal his car. One armed with a Stanley knife attacked the car owner cutting him while the other thief screamed ‘stab him, stab him’.

“We are thankful that this man escaped with his life. The Attorney General Lord Goldsmith in conjunction with the DPP Alister Frasier need to review the law in order that we can all defend our families, homes and property against the same type of people that put Kieran Milnes in prison.”

A PSNI spokeswoman confirmed that the incident took place around 10pm on Friday.

She said they were investigating the matter further.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin MLA Michael Ferguson and the Milnes family along with Families Bereaved By Car Crime will organise a white line picket and Vigil along the Andersonstown Road starting outside the Leisure Centre on Wednesday Night at 7pm.

“We have been inundated by calls from people seeking an opportunity to show their support for Kieran Milnes and the campaign to secure his freedom,” Michael Ferguson said.

“It is crucial that we continue to demonstrate that public support as his legal team prepare to go to court and we prepare to lobby the Attorney General.”

Journalist:: Áine McEntee

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