Northern Ireland

Boy critical after armed robbery in Magherafelt

House on Dreenan Road
Image caption The 16-year-old boy was critically injured at a bungalow near Magherafelt

A 16-year-old boy is critically ill after he was badly beaten during an attempted robbery near Magherafelt.

Two masked men carrying a firearm entered the isolated bungalow at Mayogall Road in Knockcloghrim at about 20:45 BST on Tuesday.

The teenager's 70-year-old grandmother and his 44-year old uncle were also attacked and were treated in hospital.

Police have described it as a "vicious and sustained attack" and said the boy had suffered serious head injuries.

Vehicle

PSNI Detective Inspector Una Jennings said she understood that the teenager was undergoing surgery and was "fighting for his life" in hospital.

She said the boy was a GCSE student and immediately before the attack he had been revising for an exam he was due to sit on Friday.

Det Insp Jennings appealed to the public for help in catching the men responsible.

"A key part of this inquiry relates to the sighting of a dark, 4-door saloon vehicle which was seen in an around the area of the attack last night and we believe this vehicle was involved in the commission of the offence," she said.

She added that police believed the car was a Vauxhall Vectra which had no rear number plate.

The car travelled in the direction of Portglenone and then towards Ballymena following the attempted robbery.

'Anger'

Det Insp Jennings said police had set up an incident room at Strand Road PSNI station in Londonderry and were keeping "an open mind" about who was behind the attack.

Sinn Fein MP for Mid Ulster, Martin McGuinness MLA slammed those who were responsible for the attack.

"The attack on this young man, along with his grandmother and uncle, was both brutal and callous. It has left him fighting for his life and can only be described as a very serious situation," he said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family at this time.

"This is a close knit and quiet area and it will be left in a state of shock at this entire incident, the attack on this family and the robbery.

"I would call on anybody who saw anything suspicious or has any information to bring it to the PSNI. Those behind this attack must be taken off our streets to ensure there can be no repeat of this."

Local Sinn Fein councillor Sean McPeake said the tight-knit community of Gulladuff had been left stunned by news of the attack.

"Nothing like this has happened before," he said.

"They're a good hardworking family. They keep themselves to themselves and for this to be bestowed upon them has left a sense of anger within the local community."