Loyalist paramilitaries were behind the vicious attack on a Catholic teenager working on a film set in South Belfast this week, the SBN can reveal.
UVF thugs embarked on the brutal assault on an 18-year-old film extra in the Village last Friday (January 6), after discovering Catholic teenagers from the Short Strand were working on the film.
Since the vicious attack, which saw the teenager badly beaten, placed in a wheelie bin and left for dead, local UVF men have visited a local community centre which hosted the film crew to warn them not to bring anyone else into the area “without their permission”.
The paramilitary group also ordered community workers not to speak to the press about the attack, saying “there would be consequences” if they disobeyed.
The crew, which was filming for a number of days for the movie The Good Man starring The Wire actor Aiden Gillen, were in and around Frenchpark Street and Ebor Street on the day of the attack. They had been using the nearby Windsor Women’s Centre as a base of operations while continuing to film around the Village.
However around 3.50pm, a group of loyalists confronted the crew, hurling sectarian insults and threats. As the crew went to drive off, 18-year-old James Turley was caught by the mob who beat him severely before placing him in a wheelie bin. The vicious assault only stopped when his attackers thought he was dead.
Village sources, who were too frightened to be named, said the UVF were “obviously upset Catholics were in the area” with one adding “they were making no money from a film being made here”.
Another source told how UVF men subsequently visited Windsor Women’s Centre on Monday (January 9) and threatened staff.
“The community workers were told no-one else was to be allowed into the Village without the UVF’s permission. It shows the influence they are still trying to exert on this area.
“The staff were also told they were forbidden from going to the press about the incident or there would be consequences. It’s the same old thing down here with them trying to run things.
“There were a few local lads also involved in the film so it was helping this area out. I don’t like to see stuff like this happening because the Village gets enough bad press as it is but it’s horrible to see.”
Susan Picken of Manifesto Films, the company making the film, said she would think twice about returning to the Village for future shoots.
“Filming there was a very positive experience for most of the time and the local community were brilliant to us. It’s a shame something like this has happened and I wouldn’t want anything to reflect badly on the people we worked with.
“I have no idea about paramilitary involvement and I wouldn’t want to comment on that. All I can say is the people we dealt with were absolutely brilliant but working there again would be something we would need to look at very carefully.”
The PSNI refused to say if it was examining the paramilitary link to the attack saying only they were treating it as sectarian.
A police spokesperson appealed for anyone with information to contact them on 0845 600 8000.