Daily Ireland

Stolen car sets boy (8) alight

An eight-year-old boy suffered horrific burns when a stolen car was set alight near where he was playing earlier this week.

Sam Lackey sustained severe burns to his back and legs after playing near a burning vehicle which was stolen, driven around, dumped and set alight by a group of youths in Albert Street in west Belfast on Monday.
The youngster is being treated in the burns unit of the Royal Victoria Hospital where he is expected to remain for at least two weeks.
His aunt, Deirdre Lackey, yesterday said the entire neighbourhood lives in fear of death-drivers.
“It’s an absolute disgrace. People are literally afraid to leave their homes.”
The threat of death-driving used to terrorise residents mainly at weekends but the problem has now become an everyday occurrence, even in broad daylight in the narrow streets of the Lower Falls area of Belfast.
Official PSNI figures state that 295 vehicles were stolen between April and December last year in west Belfast. Residents in the Lower Falls area say it is not unusual to find ten burnt-out vehicles in one week.
One community worker from the area, who does not wish to be named, said, “Kids from all over the area come to congregate in Albert Street because they know hoods will be racing cars there.
“The kids get to wreck the cars afterwards, they think it is a game. They now go to Albert Street after school with the expectation that something is going to happen.”
Residents and parents are so sickened by death-driving and the way it impacts on their lives and the safety of their children that they organised a rally in the area last night.
Local people have also formed a protest group which will take to the streets of the Lower Falls this weekend, patrolling for death-drivers to send a stark message to the youths who continue to terrorise the streets that it will not be tolerated any more.
Local Sinn Féin councillor Fra McCann has been involved in anti-car crime campaigns for over 20 years.
He says the problem begins in young children and while a few grow out of their anti-social behaviour and realise the damage they cause by death-driving, others are simply beyond help. Mr McCann believes the only realistic way for communities to deal with the problem is to exclude death-drivers.
He said, “Some of the people who continue to death-drive are general nuisances. Whenever I talk to them they say they do it for the ‘excitement of it’.
“They have a basic problem and no matter how you try to work with them and help them they want the excitement and they go on to lead general anti-social lifestyles.
“The difficulty is that other kids see them driving flashy cars at 80 mph and they think it is big and exciting. What we try to do is get to somebody and show him what it can do to you.”
Mr McCann has called for a tougher co-ordinated community response and said, “My advice to communities is that the only people who can really solve this is themselves.
“If these people don’t want to be part of society then people should let them know that it won't be tolerated."

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