Bushmills: Man nailed to fence in 'sinister attack'

Close-up of fence with two bits cut out of the top
The PSNI said a man has been left with potentially life-changing injuries after he was nailed to a fence [BBC]

A man has been taken to hospital following a serious assault in a car park in Bushmills, County Antrim in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The man in his 20s was found nailed to a fence, with a nail through each hand, shortly after midnight.

Two vans, one belonging to the injured man, were found on fire in the car park near Dundarave Park.

Police said paramilitary involvement was one key line of inquiry.

Graffiti on nearby public toilets has been linked to the assault and arson.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said the man was left with potentially life-changing but not life-threatening injuries.

Police said it was a "sinister attack."

"We live in a democratic society where there is no justification for this. Those responsible brutalise their own communities and control others through intimidation and violence."

Burnt out van
The assault happened in a public car park near Dundarave Park [BBC]

Crews from Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) also attended the scene and extensive damage was caused to both vehicles.

It is understood the man was taken to hospital in a fire engine.

Speaking to BBC News NI on Sunday afternoon, Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton said it was a "really shocking incident with levels of, almost, ultra violence".

Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton
Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton says the local community is shocked [BBC]

"We thought these kind of incidents were firmly in our past," he said.

"It's early days and we are keeping an open mind, but this incident bears all the hallmarks of what we would see as paramilitary-style attacks, so that will be one key line of inquiry," he said.

He added that, while the incident happened in a residential area, there are also holiday lets and that it was a busy bank holiday weekend.

At the scene: Claire Graham, BBC News NI

The smell of burnt out wreckage greets tourists as they arrive at the car park, which is used as a park and ride service, open 24/7 and sits next to a housing estate at the end of the Main Street of the village.

About 20 people in mobile homes and camper vans were woken up by the sound of banging and blue lights in the early hours.

International visitors and Northern Ireland guests told BBC News NI of their shock at what they witnessed, in a village known for its tourist attractions.

BBC News NI spoke to Jackie - who was staying in her camper van when the incident took place.

"I saw the fire and I just hoped it was nothing to do with the campers, I put on my dressing gown and flip flops and went out," she said.

"One of campers was a nurse and tried to help," she added.

"I just thought: 'This is awful to happen in a place like Bushmills - they're trying to promote tourism and this has happened'," she added.

Richard Stewart
Richard Stewart says a young man was left with potentially "life changing" injuries and it was a horrific attack [BBC]

'Horrific attack'

Causeway Alliance councillor Alderman Richard Stewart said it was a "horrific attack."

"This is not wanted in Bushmills, it's not wanted in Northern Ireland. This is a thing of the past", he said."The local community is in deep shock at the nature and brutality of this attack."

TUV leader Jim Allister expressed his "dismay at the gruesome and cruel attack carried out in the village".

The PSNI is appealing for any witnesses or those who may have dashcam footage to contact them.