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Loyalists discussed sawing up Catholic

(Barry McCaffrey and Sharon O'Neill, Irish News)

A Catholic man spoke yesterday (Thursday) for the first time of how loyalists discussed cutting up his body with a saw after they mistakenly thought they had stabbed him to death.

Michael Reid (31) was speaking as Neill White (30) of Wakehurst Road, Ballymena, appeared in court awaiting sentence for the savage March 2003 attack.

The judge said the case had an added significance because of the ongoing problem of sectarianism in Ballymena.

Mr Reid had been visiting a Protestant friend's house in the Harryville area of the town when brothers Neill and Aaron White and another man arrived.

After discovering that Mr Reid was a Catholic, Neill White wrapped a telephone cable around his neck and tried to strangle him. When his brother, Aaron, took over choking the victim, Neill White stabbed Mr Reid in the head, back and neck.

At the same time he was repeatedly beaten over the head with a frying pan.

As Mr Reid fell to the floor and pretended to be dead his attackers continued to stab and kick him. They then discussed using a saw to cut up his body.

When Aaron White and the third man left the house to find a saw Mr Reid tried to escape but was caught by Neill White and stabbed again.

After a scuffle he managed to escape and was found by police collapsed on the road.

Speaking for the first time yesterday of his ordeal, Mr Reid said: "They were shouting 'Die you fenian bastard, die' as they stabbed me.

"There was blood everywhere.

"I remember lying on the ground and listening to them discussing how they were going to cut up my body to get rid of it.

"I was only able to escape because two of them left the house to get a saw and the fact that I am 6ft 4ins.

"If I had been smaller or they had all stayed in the house I wouldn't be alive today."

Police found Neill White (30) in the house, but his brother Aaron and the third attacker have never been caught.

Mr Reid fled Ballymena after the attack and has been in hiding ever since.

Raising concerns that two of his attackers are still at large, he said: "I think it is a disgrace they have never been caught.

"I think the police could be doing more to catch these guys.

"Why hasn't Aaron White's picture appeared in the newspapers or on Crimewatch?

"My life will never be safe until they are behind bars."

Trial judge Mr Justice Coughlin said that the attempted murder had clearly been sectarian and that the case had an added significance because of the ongoing problem of sectarianism in Ballymena and Northern Ireland as a whole.

Neill White, who pleaded guilty to attempted murder in June, is expected to be sentenced at a later date.

September 10, 2005

This article appeared first in the September 9, 2005 edition of the Irish News.

This article appears thanks to the Irish News. Subscribe to the Irish News