07 January 2006

Gun victim refused aid

Daily Ireland

By Connla Young

The PSNI has refused to support an application for compensation made by a victim of loyalist intimidation, it has emerged.
Co Antrim man Tommy O'Hara says that he has received no compensation for damage caused to his vehicle after he was stopped at an illegal loyalist road block in 2003. Controversy erupted last year after three men involved in the incident received a slap on the wrist from the courts for their part in the incident.
John McDonald (28) his brother Gary McDonald (22) and Stephen Maternaghan (23) all from Innishrush Road, Portglenone, Co Antrim, each received a suspended sentence in October 2005 after they admitted using a deactivated AK47 at a roadblock on the Twelfth of July 2003.
During the incident Mr O'Hara was stopped at the illegal check point and had a gun pointed at his head. The Co Antrim man says his vehicle was damaged during the incident which has left him traumatised. A car belonging to Mr O'Hara's son, Tommy Junior, was also damaged at the road block when he drove through it minutes before his father.
The loyalist trio later claimed they were protecting an Orange arch in the Innishrush which had previously been damaged in an arson attack. Earlier this week it emerged that the Court of Appeal will reconsider the lenient sentences handed down to the three loyalists next week.
In a letter sent by the PSNI to Mr O'Hara's legal representatives the PSNI said: “The Chief Constable is not of the opinion that the act to which you refer was committed maliciously by a person acting on behalf of, or in conjunction with an unlawful association, within the meaning of the Criminal Injuries (Northern Ireland) Order, 1988.”
The victim of the attack says he is disappointed that the PSNI do not view the incident as malicious.
“I haven't been compensated for the damage caused to my van nor the damage caused to my son's car. They are discussing this issue of a tougher sentence but that is not what concerns me in all this. I expected nothing more from British justice. I have lived here for 40 years and know how things work. I didn't ask for these people to be given a tougher sentence. As far as I'm concerned the men were found guilty, sentenced and the matter was closed. Sean Farren raised it again by demanding tougher sentencing, but he never called me, the victim of the attack, to see what I thought.
“Two and a half years later I am still waiting on compensation but the PSNI won't issue a certificate.”

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