Belfast LGBT+ charity appeals for information regarding ‘serious homophobic’ drill attack

A Northern Irish LGBT+ charity is appealing for witnesses after a gay woman was attacked in the skull by a drill.

The horrific attack saw Brenda McLaughlin, 38, assaulted with a cordless drill in Strabane, Northern Ireland at 2am outside of a nightclub, leaving her with a hole in her skull.

She was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry where her condition was initially life-threatening but now she has been marked as stable, reported The Belfast Telegraph.

LGB&T Advocacy Officer for The Rainbow Project Aisling Twomey has been working with the police to support the family after Brenda McLaughlin, 38, was hurt in the “senseless” attack in Strabane, Belfast.


Brenda McLaughlin

The group said that there was “absolutely no excuse” to tackle someone for their sexuality.

“There is absolutely no excuse for someone being targeted because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Hate crime robs people of their confidence and their independence,” said Aisling Twomey, LGB&T Advocacy Officer for The Rainbow Project.

“This attack could have left the victim with a serious life-changing injury to the victim or led to a fatality.”

“The PSNI are taking the hate crime aspect of the incident very seriously and young man has been charged according with grievous bodily harm with intention, theft and possession of an offensive weapon. We echo the comments of the District Judge Peter King, who described it as an inexplicably violent incident during the initial hearing on Monday 07 May 2018,” she added.


(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The 17-year-old male teenager appeared in Omagh Magistrates Court on Monday to face accusations of GBH.

He is further accused of stealing a power drill belonging to the nightclub.

“The victim said she believed it was in relation to her homosexuality,” A PSNI detective told Omagh Magistrates Court .

The accused told police he had homosexual relatives and it was not because McLaughlin is gay, his solicitor Ciaran McGuinness said.

The victim is in a high-dependency unit in Altnagelvin Hospital, reported the publication.

“We are exploring a possible homophobic motive for the crime and we are appealing for witnesses to get in touch with us,” Detective Sergeant Brian Reid told The Belfast Telegraph.

“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,” said Detective Sergeant Brian Reid.

“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.


BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND – AUGUST 05: PSNI and Garda officers representative of the gay community exit a PSNI landrover (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

“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.”

Likewise, The Rainbow Project has asked those who might not feel comfortable reporting to the police to speak to them instead.

“I would encourage any person experiencing violence or intimidation as a result of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity to report it to the PSNI on 101 and if they don’t feel comfortable with the police, then they can speak directly to The Rainbow Project’s Advocacy Service by emailing [email protected].”