Suffer the children -
15-year-old girl has been placed on a UVF hit-list
by Stephen Breen
30 January 2005
A 15-year-old girl has been placed on a UVF hit-list
Cops have given terrified schoolgirl Kerrie Cromie, from Ballysillan in north Belfast, her own bulletproof vest after warning her loyalist terrorists are planning to kill her.
They are determined to silence the teenager, after she survived a previous shooting - and vowed to give evidence against the gunmen.
Last night, traumatised Kerrie told Sunday Life: "My family's life is in turmoil at the minute, but I am determined to see the men who tried to kill me in court.
"I know their names and have passed them on to the police. They are now walking the streets, while I am in hiding, because I have been warned these people will kill me."
Sunday Life met Kerrie and her mum Margaret after they decided to go public about their nightmare.
Speaking to us from a secret location, the teenager said the threat against her has nothing to do with the latest feud in north and west Belfast, between the UVF and LVF.
The teenager's ordeal began when a two-man UVF gang fired a shot at a car she was travelling in, on December 2.
Two men were questioned about the shooting, but were later released by cops.
The intended target of the shooting was north Belfast community worker Jim McClean, who is a close friend of her family.
Two weeks later, the UVF was blamed for firing shots at a house, in the Flush Road area.
It is understood the gang had intended to target a property Kerrie regularly visited, but targeted the wrong address.
And the family claims the UVF have also fired shots at Kerrie's older brother.
One of the UVF gun gang members is now believed to be in hiding in England.
Since then, Margaret, Kerrie and her three brothers have been in hiding.
The brave schoolgirl also told how she has:
-Been kept out of school.
-Received a panic alarm from cops.
-Had graffiti daubed, labelling her an informer.
-Been forced to stay in safe-houses.
-Become hooked on anti-depressants.
Said Kerrie: "I am no PSNI tout or LVF tout, but I am determined to stand in front of an identity parade and identify the two men who tried to kill me.
"Even though I am living in fear, and my family's life has been turned upside down, I have spoken to my mother, and we are determined to go ahead with this.
"I know who tried to kill me and I told the police who it was, but I can't believe they are still walking the streets.
"My mum was disgusted with the police response to my case.
"I'm just praying for the day when I can see them in court, but until then, my family will have to be on its guard.
"We have no life now, and if it wasn't for our family and friends, I don't know where we would be. I won't rest until these people are behind bars."
David Ervine, leader of the UVF-linked PUP, said he would be happy to meet with the family to discuss their concerns.
Said Mr Ervine: "I have no difficulty in talking to this girl's mother, but I know absolutely nothing about this case.
"I can't imagine this girl being on a UVF hit-list."
A police spokesman said: "We can confirm that two men were questioned about a shooting in Ballysillan on December 2. They were released, pending a report.
"We are not in a position to comment on the individual security of citizens, and would appeal for information about this attack.
"If anyone has a complaint to make regarding a police investigation, they should contact the Police Ombudsman."
The threat against the 15-year-old comes in a week when the UVF was blamed for a series of petrol-bomb attacks in north Belfast, and the intimidation of six families in Ards.
The revelation that a young girl is under a death threat will place even more pressure on the PUP.
Why I'm so proud of my courageous daughter
Brave Kerrie Cromie's mum last night hit out at the UVF thugs who have placed her on a hit-list.
Margaret Cromie (40) has vowed to stand by her daughter's decision to testify against the two men she claims tried to kill her.
Said the mum-of-four: "There's no doubt about it - our backs are against the wall because of this whole thing.
"Why would anyone want to kill a teenager? My daughter is no paramilitary, and my family have never had any paramilitary links.
"The only thing she did was tell the police who tried to kill her, and I am very proud of her for doing this. I will stand by her 100 per cent.
"We have been forced to live in different homes, but that's all we can do at the minute, because we are worried that these thugs could attack us.
"My daughter remains determined to stand in front of an ID parade and tell the police who tried to kill us. It's her decision, and I respect that."
The north Belfast woman also hit out at the police response to her daughter's case.
She said: "I am disgusted with the police investigation into this. I can't understand how two men who tried to kill an innocent girl are still walking the streets - it's scandalous.
"I have lost four stone over this whole thing. People have been put in custody for lesser offences. I know the police questioned these boys, but they should be behind bars, instead of running around without a care in the world."