Page last updated at 17:13 GMT, Friday, 6 February 2009

Teenager jailed for coma attack

Paul McCauley
Paul McCauley pictured at the barbeque shortly before he was attacked

A teenager has been sentenced to 12 years in a young offenders centre for an attack which has left a man in a coma for the past two-and-a-half years.

Daryl Proctor, 18, from the Fountain, Londonderry, pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent on Paul McCauley in July 2006.

Mr McCauley and his friends were at a barbeque at Chapel Road, Derry, when Proctor, then aged 15, attacked them.

Paul McCauley, who was 30 at the time, has never regained consciousness.

Daryl Proctor had been charged with attempting to murder Mr McCauley but pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent.

Mr McCauley sustained multiple injuries, including a brain haemorrhage and a fractured skull, when he and two friends were beaten by a gang of youths.

He suffered two heart attacks on the way to Altnagelvin Hospital and remains in a vegetative state.

Belfast Crown Court heard that his condition was unlikely to improve and he will require full-time care for the rest of his life.

Proctor - who was two weeks short of his 16th birthday when he took part in the sectarian attack - was linked to the attack by a baseball cap which was found at the scene.

The cap was forensically tested and DNA taken from the headband was found to match that of Proctor's.

In addition, Mr McCauley's blood was recovered from the heel of one of his trainers.

Trial judge Mr Justice Hart told the court the attack was "undoubtedly sectarian" as Proctor left his home in the Fountain estate and walked to the Waterside where a mob "picked on Mr McCauley and his companions because they were close to Chapel Road and so were thought to be likely to be Roman Catholics".

He said the three victims did nothing to provoke the attack but were "simply enjoying themselves and were picked upon because of where they lived in a way that is sadly all too familiar throughout Northern Ireland."

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