Belfast Telegraph

Thugs 'ruined my boy's life'
Mum's plea to find men who beat teenager

By Brian Hutton
10 February 2005

The mother of a Belfast teenager left brain damaged after a brutal assault today revealed that her life has become a nightmare as she pleaded for help in finding his attackers.

Almost three weeks after the attack, 19-year-old John Beck remains seriously ill and unconscious in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

And in a bid to persuade witnesses to come forward John's mother Lynn today released a photograph showing the teenager in intensive care, where he spent two and a half weeks on life support.

Mrs Beck, said today that her son has been left brain-damaged for life.

"The doctors had to remove part of his skull to let his brain swell," she said.

"It swelled out to the size of a basketball. His head was almost the breadth of his shoulders.

"It's just a complete mess. I wouldn't wish this on anybody on Earth. No child deserves what John got. He's only a young boy and now he'll need help for the rest of this life.

"I'm just waiting for someone to pinch me and tell me it's all been a nightmare."

Detectives believe they are closing in on those responsible for the horrific assault at around 1.30am on Sunday, January 16 in the east of city.

Mr Beck and a friend were chased by three men, one carrying a length of wood, from the Beersbridge Road area.

Four people have already been arrested, including one person in England, who was charged with withholding information before being released on bail, pending further inquiries.

The other three have been released unconditionally, two of them following failed identification parades.

Police are treating the attack as attempted murder.

Investigating officer, Detective Superintendent Roy McComb, said it was "as bad a beating as I've ever seen".

"He was at death's door and is by no means out of the woods yet," he said.

"This was a 19-year-old man who was healthy and uninjured and because of this attack he now lies comatose with serious injuries to his brain."

Searches were carried out in east Belfast last week as part of the investigation.

The possibility of paramilitary involvement may be hindering people from coming forward with information, police believe.

But Det Super McCombe appealed for those with the remaining few vital clues to contact police.

"Somebody holds the key to this," he said.

"Three young men were not at home around 1.30am on the morning of January 16. They came home some time thereafter.

"Their families or girlfriends may have seen them acting unusually, maybe washing clothes to get rid of blood."

Police have appealed to anyone on the Castlereagh Road, Beersbridge Road or Lower Woodstock Road between 12.30am and 1.30am on Sunday, January 16 to contact them.

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