Man left with severe injuries as he tried to stop dog being attacked : Family appeal for young people to come forward

The family of a man who was attacked as he tried to come to the aid of a dog being abused has urged those young people present to tell their parents what they know about the assault.

By Brendan McDaid
Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 2:25 pm
Aaron (Harry) Doherty with his own dog Loki.
Aaron (Harry) Doherty with his own dog Loki.

Aaron (also known as Harry) Doherty from the Marlborough area of Londonderry is currently receiving treatment at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast after being transferred there due to the extent and seriousness of his injuries.

Aaron (24) is experiencing severe pain and has a bleed to the back of his skull and will take a long time to recuperate, but there was some relief for the family when a procedure this week determined there was no sign of aneurysms.

His stepfather Gerry Doherty said Aaron had been visiting a friend’s house in the Fernabbey area on Sunday, July 12 and was returning home in a taxi when he saw a black dog being attacked by a gang with sticks and stones on the Skeoge Road and asked the taxi driver to pull over.

Aaron, an animal lover who himself has a black labrador called Loki, was then attacked and fell to the ground. The gang were seen running off in the Ballyarnett/ Shantallow direction. Mr Doherty said: “Aaron got out to chastise them and he ends up unconscious on the ground. He can’t remember much about it but is getting flashbacks of it and there was a whole crowd of them.”

It’s unclear at this stage, Mr Doherty said, what the gang were doing in the area, but he said it is possible they may have been one of the groups out gathering bonfire materials, as there are not as many large gatherings of young people as there would be normally over the summer due to the COVID pandemic.

“My appeal is to the others in that group of young people, particularly the younger ones, to tell their parents what they know. Some young boy could be sitting now in their bedroom not knowing what to do or where to go. I would urge them to speak to their mothers and fathers and tell them ‘I was there’.

“Not all young people are bad or set out to be bad but among the young people there are some bad guys. I would appeal to those who were there to speak up, and this would actually help them down the line by showing they have a moral compass. It’s about knowing the difference between right and wrong. I would be worried that whoever did this would do it again if they get away with it this time.”

Mr Doherty said Aaron was “just mad about dogs”. “Hopefully we will get him home soon,” he added.

Police in Derry have appealed for anyone who witnessed the assault to come forward.

In a statement issued following the incident, a PSNI spokesperson also appealed to anyone who might have driving in the area and who would have dashcam footage to come forward. It is understood the incident occurred after 10.30pm.

The PSNI spokesperson said: “Detectives are investigating after a male was assaulted in Skeoge Road area of Derry on Sunday July 12. The 24 year old was punched in the face and fell to the ground banging his head. The victim was assisted by two passers-by before being transferred to hospital by ambulance. His condition is understood to be very serious.

“Anyone who was in the area or who may have captured mobile phone or dashcam footage is asked to contact police on 101, quoting reference 2318 12/07/20. A report can also be made using the online reporting form via www.psni.police.uk/makeareport or by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.”