17 September 2005

Loyalist jailed for Harryville horror

Belfast Telegraph

I'm still living in fear says Catholic victim

By Deborah McAleese
17 September 2005

A Ballymena loyalist who strangled and repeatedly stabbed a Catholic man in an horrific sectarian attack and then planned to cut up his body with a saw was last night starting a 16-year sentence behind bars.

But even with the depraved thug safely off the streets the victim of the horrific murder attempt said he would never be able to put the terrifying ordeal behind him.

Neil White (30), from Wakehurst Road, Ballymena, was one of three men who tried to strangle 31-year-old Michael Reid with a phone chord and then stabbed him repeatedly with a knife shouting sectarian abuse in October 2003 at a house in Patrick Place, Harryville.

Mr Reid was forced to pretend he was dead in the hope that White and the two accomplices - who have never been caught - would stop attacking him.

As he lay motionless in a pool of blood White and the two men continued to kick and stab him to make sure he was dead and then started to discuss how they would dispose of his body. They then decided to get a saw and cut him up.

While the two other men left to get a saw White stayed with the body but Mr Reid was able to fight White off and make his escape.

He ran from the house but collapsed a short distance away where he was picked up by a passing police patrol.

As White was imprisoned at Belfast Crown Court yesterday, Mr Reid, who has been forced into hiding, said he was still living in fear. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph he said: "I am still in fear for my life as the two other men are still out there. I want police to keep trying to get them.

"I expected White to get about 16 years so I suppose I am happy enough with that but I wish he had got more. I will never be able to put this behind me but I'm just trying to get on with my life as best I can."

Sentencing White, Mr Justice Coghlin said sectarianism was a "corrosive toxin that remorselessly eats away at the social fabric surrounding many communities in Northern Ireland".

He said: "Mr Reid was a Catholic in Harryville, the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Over time sectarianism has been cynically exploited by politicians and paramilitaries.

"No child is born sectarian but rather acquires such attitudes and beliefs as a result of social contact and influence including family, peer groups and the wider community."

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