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Priest pleaded with vigilante group to stop attack on sex offenders

James White Alexis Gusto

A priest pleaded with a large vigilante group to stop their violent attack on two convicted paedophiles on the run from police in south Armagh.

Local priest Fr John Heagney attempted to calm the situation, which saw people with iron bars, beat and kick James White and Alexis Gusto in Mullaghbawn on Saturday evening.

One eye-witness said she couldn’t believe the two men, who were eventually tied to a bench and covered in paint, were still alive following the vicious assault.

“They kicked them in the head. They beat them with sticks. They jeered. They took pictures of them,” she told the BBC.

“I thought one of them was dead.

“We went for the priest and he immediately came down and tried to plead with them. I know they had to be taken out of the community – but not like that.”

She added: “People were saying we’d rather go to Syria than to south Armagh now.”

It is understood the two men had been hiding out in the nearby Glendesha Forest.

White and Gusto were put behind bars again after they were discharged from hospital over the weekend.

Gusto – also known as James Lydiard – appeared at Newry Crown Court on Monday morning on a bench warrant and has been remanded in custody.

White was conveyed straight to prison from hospital.

Detectives are continuing to investigate the events surrounding the pair’s apprehension and subsequent assault over the weekend.

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