A 17 year-old from Strabane has been remanded in custody charged with what is being treated as a hate attack in the town in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The teenager, who cannot be named because of his age, wept and hugged his mother after being refused bail at a hearing in Omagh Magistrates Court this afternoon.
He is charged on May 5 with unlawfully and maliciously causing grievous bodily harm with intent to the woman. He also faces charges of possession of an offensive weapon namely a cordless drill and the theft of the drill from Ruby’ nightclub in the town.
A detective constable told the court that at 2.12am on Saturday morning a police patrol was flagged down and their attention was brought to a woman lying on the ground in Railway Street.
He said that there was an amount of blood on the street and that the woman was lapsing in and out of consciousness, and seemed to be taking fits and seizures.
The court heard that during a period of lucidity she had told police of being attacked by a young man by reason of her sexuality.
Other witnesses identified the young man who was heard nearby to be shouting what were described as paramilitary-type slogans. He was arrested a short time later.
The woman was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry, with what were initially thought to be life-threatening injuries.
Police said that they were unable to say for certain whether the attack had been caused by a blunt force to the victim’s head or because of the drill penetrating her head.
The drill used by the teenager was found later that morning, but there was no drill-bit discovered.
The detective constable said that the accused had allegedly taken the drill from Ruby’s Nightclub and was seen on CCTV to have been in high-spirits and appeared to be playing with the drill as if it was a gun, trying to ‘shoot’ his friends.
He said that the classification of the offence as a hate-crime was made after an interview with the victim who said that the teenager was aggressive and shouting at the time of the attack and that she believed it was carried out in relation to her sexuality.
Objecting to bail, he said that the teenager should be remanded in custody for the safety of the public and himself. However, the court was told that there was no intelligence to suggest that the 17 year-old might be attacked.
Defence solicitor, Ciaran McGuinness, said the young man was an apprentice joiner who had ambitions for the future and was accompanied in court by his parents. He said the teenager would abide by whatever bail conditions were imposed.
However, District Judge, Peter King, said the incident was one of ‘gross and inexplicable violence.’
He remanded the teenager in custody to appear again via videolink at Strabane Youth Court on May 18 next.