17-year-old charged over brutal drill attack on woman, police probe homophobic motive

A 17-year-old has been charged over a shocking attack on a woman with a cordless drill, as police investigate a “possible homophobic motive”.

The 38-year-old victim, who has been named locally as Brenda McLaughlin, was assaulted with a cordless drill in Strabane, Northern Ireland, at around 2 AM on Saturday, May 5.

She sustained a very serious head injury and was taken to hospital where her condition at present is described as critical but stable.

Brenda McLaughlin

Police today confirmed: “A 17-year-old male has been charged with GBH with intent, possession of an offensive weapon in a public place and theft of a drill.

“It follows an attack on a woman in Strabane during the early hours of Saturday morning. The teenager is due to appear in Court in Omagh on Monday.”

The 17-year-old suspect was detained by police a short distance away from the scene, according to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Detective Sergeant Brian Reid said: “This was a brutal attack and the injuries sustained by the victim are extremely grave.”

(Creative Commons/Flickr user Mic)

PSNI added: “We are exploring a possible homophobic motive for the crime and we are appealing for witnesses to get in touch with us.

“We would like to hear from anyone who may have seen a male carrying a drill in the area at around the time of the assault and we would especially like to speak to anyone who may have captured footage, either on mobile phone or dashcam.

“Anyone with such footage or any other information that could assist the investigation is asked to contact police in Strabane on 101, quoting reference number 153 05/05/18.

“Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”

SDLP assembly member for West Tyrone, Daniel McCrossan, said: “I am absolutely horrified by this assault. This kind of sickening behaviour has no place in society.

“I would ask the community to give the PSNI the space they need to carry out their investigation swiftly and throughly. I would also appeal to anyone who may have information about this assault to contact crimestoppers immediately.

“My thoughts are with the victim and her family.”