Friday, 7 March 2008

Minehead 'a safe place to live'

FIVE weeks to the day after Minehead gardener Tim Chilcott was killed by a savage town centre street assault which shocked the community, security guard Mike McDermaid was attacked in the town’s busiest supermarket and suffered a fractured skull and eye socket.
A young teenager came up behind Mr McDermaid and struck him over the head with a full bottle of spirits which had been stolen from the store, knocking him to the ground.
The police officer leading the earlier inquiry into Mr Chilcott’s killing, Det Chief Insp Martyn Triggol, announced publicly afterwards that such attacks were rare and Minehead generally ‘remains a very safe place’.
Now, however, Mr McDermaid, who previously served 24 years as a Special Constable in Minehead, is lucky to be alive after a late-night assault which happened as he carried out his duties in Tesco, off Seaward Way.
Mr McDermaid, who lives in Watchet, was attempting to help a colleague restrain a second teenager in the foyer of the supermarket when the assault happened.
Both youths were said to be attending 24/7 @ Periton Mead specialist school, just outside Minehead, and one was known to most traders in the town who belong to the anti-crime Shopwatch scheme.
They had already been officially barred from entering the Tesco store because of previous incidents.
Mr McDermaid told The Post: “Knowing that they were barred, they were actually entering as ‘burglars’.
“I immediately alerted the police and the store management and locked the doors.
“It all then kicked off in the foyer. They shoulder-charged the doors to try to get the doors open, then they were kicking the windows trying to get out. They had a girl accomplice outside who was kicking the windows trying to get in.
“I was going towards the one that my mate was holding onto when the other one came up behind me and cracked me over the head.
“It put me in hospital for two days and fractured my skull from the forehead just above the hairline down to the right eyebrow, which gave me a black eye.
“I do not know why he did it. I was no threat to him because I was going away from him.”
Mr McDermaid has been off work since the assault, which happened at about 10.15 pm on February 25, and he is not likely to be able to return for another three weeks.
Despite nearly a quarter-of-a-century working on police duties in the town, it was the first physical assault he had suffered.
He said: “I deal with anything that comes through the doors from day to day, but not anything like this before.
“It is a regular occurrence to be threatened, and I was once told by somebody they were going to come back and I was going to be stabbed, but I have not had anything like this before.
“As a Special Constable I have been involved in fights, of course, restraining people, especially outside the nightclubs, but this is the first time it has turned to violence towards me.”
Mr McDermaid said the incident had not put him off his security duties and he was keen to return to work.
Police confirmed that two juveniles had been arrested, one on suspicion of theft and assault, and the second on suspicion of criminal damage.
Both were charged to appear before a youth court the following day. The law prevents newspapers from identifying the teenagers because of their young age.
  • Our photographs show Mr McDermaid's injuries two days after the attack. Photos submitted.

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