'Homophobic' drill attack left woman with hole in skull, court told


A woman was left with a circular hole in her skull after she was attacked with part of a drill during a suspected homophobic assault in Northern Ireland, police have told a court.

Brenda McLaughlin told police she believed she was targeted on Saturday because she is homosexual. The case is being treated as a hate crime.

The alleged male assailant, 17, and McLaughlin were at Ruby’s nightclub in Strabane, County Tyrone, early on Saturday morning.

There was no evidence a drill bit was in place when the power tool was later recovered or after police checked security camera footage, a Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detective told Omagh magistrates court.

“It is my understanding that the victim has since told medical staff that she heard the noise of the drill and felt her head being twisted,” the detective said.

McLaughlin is in a high-dependency unit at Altnagelvin hospital in Derry, where her condition was initially life-threatening but later got better.

“There does appear to be some sort of hole in the skull but I cannot say how severe it is,” the detective said, adding that no damage had been caused to her brain.

The teenager is accused of having an offensive weapon. He is also alleged to have unlawfully and maliciously caused grievous bodily harm to McLaughlin or intended to do so, and is further accused of stealing a power drill belonging to the nightclub.

A police patrol was alerted by members of the public that a woman was lying injured with blood coming from her head. She was also having fits and seizures.

The district judge Peter King said it was a “grossly violent, inexplicably violent incident”.

The accused told police he had homosexual relatives and did not bear any ill will, his solicitor, Ciaran McGuinness, said.

King said there was a risk to public protection and remanded the teenager in custody, to appear by video link at Strabane magistrates court on 18 May.



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