Victim left traumatised after being attacked by masked and armed gang in 'sectarian-motivated hate crime'

A man was punched and possibly struck with a bat during a sectarian-motivated gang attack in a NI town.

Detectives are appealing for information and witnesses following the report of a gang assault on the morning of Tuesday 5 November in the Sentry Hill area of Ballymena.

Sentry Hill, Ballymena - Google maps

Sentry Hill, Ballymena - Google maps

Police received a report that the incident happened to a man walking in the area around 11.30am - when he was attacked by several masked males.

“The man was punched and struck, possibly with a bat; while one of the assailants brandished a knife," said Detective Sergeant Lenaghan.

"Thankfully, he managed to struggle free and made his way to safety.

“We are treating this as a sectarian-motivated hate crime – the victim was subjected to verbal sectarian abuse during the attack.

“Hate crimes have no place in today’s society and will simply not be tolerated.

“While this man managed to escape with minor physical injuries, such as bruising and cuts, we could have been looking at a very different picture.

"He has, understandably, been left badly shaken by a dreadful ordeal. "

Sgt Lenaghan said that Sentry Hill "is a popular area with walkers" and appealed to "anyone with information, or who witnessed any suspicious activity, to get in touch on 101, quoting reference number 1424 of 07/11/19".

Alternatively, information can be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.