15/04/2008

Attack Victim Fights For Life

One of the victim's of last weekend's violence, an Irish rugby fan, is still fighting for his life after being attacked on a visit to Belfast to watch his team play.

The 43-year-old man was severely beaten and suffered serious head and facial injuries during the assault early on Saturday morning.

Named yesterday as Paul Newton, a father of two from Sligo, he is critically ill after the attack in the city centre and is being treated in the intensive care unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

The Connacht supporter was in the capital for the Magners League match against Ulster at Ravenhill on Friday night.

His friend Shane O'Meara said the attack came as a shock.

"It's such a mystery - he's a larger-than-life character, he's 6ft 5in and still actively involved in sport," he said.

"Whoever attacked him would have been a fairly powerful man to cause such injuries," his friend said.

Mr Newton was set upon outside his hotel in Bradbury Place at between 3.30am and 3.45am on Saturday.

The PSNI are appealing to anyone who was in the Bradbury Place/Shaftesbury Square area around the time of the attack and witnessed the assault or any suspicious behaviour to contact them.

Detectives are particularly keen to talk to two women who they believe may have been in the area when the assault occurred.

Belfast Lord Mayor, Jim Rodgers - who has already called on the police to do more following last weekend's number of incidents, including two brutal attacks and the rape of a tourist in a city park in broad daylight - said: "It is disgusting and despicable and I don't care whether it is a local person or a visitor.

"He came here to enjoy a rugby game and the way he was left just sickens and disgusts me."

See: 'Call Police' Over Rape Says SF

(BMcC)

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