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August 1, 2003

Deaf Child Assaulted by Thugs

From: icNorthern Ireland, UK - Aug 1, 2003

By Gemma Murray

A PROFOUNDLY deaf youngster who was assaulted and stripped of his beloved Rangers top could have been killed when he bolted from his assailants down the motorway, his mum claimed last night.

Melanie McCord, 31, said the thought of her son Adam Reid running down the M1 in a panic is "terrifying".

The 11-year-old from the village area of south Belfast had gone to the Park Centre shopping complex with some friends when they were set upon by a gang of nationalist youths at nearby Broadway roundabout.

The youths ripped the Rangers shirt - which had been signed on Wednesday night after the friendly game with Linfield - off his back and set it alight.

"They removed his jacket first, then removed his Rangers shirt which was signed by the team's players," said Melanie.

"The child was found more or less hysterical on the motorway by a couple who knew him. The danger is, because Adam is profoundly deaf, he cannot hear traffic. He could have been killed.

"Then, because he was so upset, I think Adam thought the couple who were trying to help him were actually trying to kidnap him."

The mother-of-two, who has only moved into the area from Dundonald, said Adam's shopping expedition yesterday was the first time he had left the house in days.

"And look what happened to him when he went out," she said. "He will have a black eye tomorrow and has cuts and bruises on his back and shoulders. But he is very shocked and upset by what happened. Where we lived before there was no sectarianism.

"He has had a lot of changes recently and this was the last thing he needed."

Last week, a 21-year-old west Belfast man wearing a Glasgow Celtic football shirt was attacked by up to 20 youths - some of them wearing Glasgow Rangers shirts - at a golf course near Lisburn.

And earlier this month, five-yearold Curtis Martin received a serious eye injury after being hit by a stone which came through the window of a car he was travelling in with his father in south Belfast.

He was wearing a Rangers top and was with his father who was in his band uniform, travelling home from an Orange march.

A surgeon operated for five hours to repair damage to his eye. Riot police were last night called to Glanmachan Street in south Belfast to quell sectarian clashes between youths.

It is understood the gangs were stoning each other across the motorway.

Loyalist sources said the incident arose after the sectarian attack on Adam Reid.

© owned by or licensed to Trinity Mirror Plc 2003