15 October 2005

Terrifying attack on girl

Daily Ireland

By Aine McEntee

A 15-year-old girl from north Belfast has said she thought she was going to die after she was savagely set upon by two women as she walked home from school.
Our Lady of Mercy girls’ school pupil Catherine Hamilton was walking home along the Ligoniel Road in north Belfast after school on Thursday when two women hurled sectarian abuse at her and trailed her into a garden.
The women, described as being in their 40s, pulled Ms Hamilton’s hair back and struck her on the face and nose, causing her to bleed.
“I thought they were going to kill me,” the schoolgirl said.
“They said you don’t have the right to walk through here – we don’t walk through Ligoniel.”
The 15-year-old girl’s attackers then tried to throw her over a fence and into another garden. The teenager managed to escape and a neighbour spotted her on the Ligoniel Road covered in blood and took her home.
While the attack was taking place, a crowd of women and children had gathered to watch.
Ms Hamilton’s stepmother Geraldine Bloomer praised her daughter’s courage in managing to break free of her attackers.
“If she hadn’t have managed to get away, I think they would have killed her. I really do,” Mrs Bloomer said.
“Nobody can believe it, that two grown women could do this.
“Catherine’s been left really terrified by this. She won’t go out on her own and she hasn’t slept a wink since it happened. It’s getting to the stage when you’d be afraid to send your child to school.”
Principal of Our Lady of Mercy girls’ school, Peter Daly, said the school was appalled at the attack.
He also said it wasn’t the first time a pupil had been attacked.
“The school deplores any sort of attack on school girls. It is terrible. But this is a fact of life in some areas, particularly up there at an interface area.
“There has been a number of incidents over the years, due to the position of the school. They’re not common but when they do happen, they are very upsetting for not only the victim but the whole school as well.”
A spokesperson for the PSNI said they were investigating the assault of a 15-year-old girl in Springvale Gardens on Thursday.
“She received a number of injuries, which are not life threatening. We are still investigating to find out if the incident was sectarian. We believe a number of females was involved.
“We are appealing for witnesses to come forward.”

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