A young man is still recovering after he was dumped naked and badly beaten into a taped-up blue bin in Ballymena. Three men and a woman have been arrested in connection with the incident in the Sentry Hill area of the north Antrim town.
Local sources claim the victim was found inside the bin by a member of the public whose dog alerted him to the bin around 4pm - but it is not known how long he had been there.
Detective Chief Inspector Tracey Mageean said: “A man has sustained injuries which are not believed to be life threatening and is now in a stable condition in hospital.
“He was inside a wheelie bin which had been taped up and was found by a person out walking a dog. That person had the presence of mind to call the ambulance service and police immediately.”
She added: “At this time, I do not believe that there is a sectarian motive nor do I consider that it is paramilitary related. This incident has shocked local people as this an area where crime isn’t prevalent.”
The attack has been condemned by north Antrim MP Ian Paisley.
“It is utterly appalling that someone has been attacked and put in a bin,” he said.
DUP MLA Paul Frew condemned the “very serious incident” in which “someone could have lost their life”.
“It is very fortunate that the young man was found at all, as the bin was around 15 metres off the walkers pathway,” he said. “He has several injuries to his body. He was found by a passer by when his dog started to bark and investigate.”
Mr Frew said the young man “was trapped in a blue wheelie bin which had been taped up and placed against a tree to stop him escaping”.
“Tuesday was a very hot day and he was said to be sweating badly when he was found. He was also dehydrated.”
Mr Frew said the area - Sentry Hill - where the victim was found “is a very busy park used by many walkers and you do not associate this sort of behaviour with this area”.
UUP MLA for the area, Robin Swann, told of his “shock” at the incident and appealed for anyone with information to contact police.
Fellow TUV MLA, Jim Allister, said the attack on the young man and “the degrading treatment he was subjected to is absolutely appalling and there can be no place for this criminal behaviour”. He added: “The injuries sustained, while serious in and of themselves, could have been a lot worse if he had not been discovered by an alert and publicly spirited passer-by. People from Ballymena are shocked at what is being reported.”
SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan said the man was found in a council-owned park near an old-fashioned sports hall.
“While the full facts are not clear this was obviously a very serious incident and the young person concerned was treated in a disgraceful and degrading fashion,” he said.
“There would have been a number of people involved in such an incident and it is likely quite a number of people have useful information in relation to what happened and I would encourage them to go to the police.”