Passengers tackled a graffiti gang of balaclava-clad youths — armed with knives and wooden planks — who forced a train to stop at a station during 20 minutes of “terror”.
Around 20 youths, wearing balaclavas and hoodies, lay in wait at Clongriffin train station in north Dublin, on Tuesday night, according to eyewitnesses.
The gang jammed doors with pieces of wood to cause the Dublin City-Malahide Dart to remain stationary while they spray-painted the outside carriage, causing €4,000 of damage.
But up to five train passengers took the gang on as others sat looking on “in terror,” one eyewitness said.
Passenger Damien Hawe, from Lusk, Co Dublin, who tackled one gang member, told how he went into shock after he realised the gang had been carrying knives as well as 2x4 planks of wood.
“One of the lads stood in front of the door, so the train couldn’t move on. One passenger told him to move away from the door, as he wanted to get out and go home.
“But I could see him and his friends were getting narky and aggressive, so I went over to see what was going on. At that point there was a bit of pushing and shoving and some of the passengers tried to get the gang off the train.
“I tried to grab one of them, to get him away from the door, as he just wouldn’t be moved and the train couldn’t move. A few of the lads who’d started spray painting the train up the platform, saw he was in trouble and they came to help him. I then realised one of them had a 2x4 plank of wood and he started waving it towards us.
“He started smashing the plank of wood against the Dart. It was only after the guards arrived, I found out they had knives. That really put me in shock because I know how much worse this could have been.”
According to Damien, there were up to five passengers, near the door, trying to get the gang to leave but they were backed up by up to 10 more passengers behind them. Other passengers were too afraid to get involved.
But it was the public who managed to get the gang to leave the train, according to Damien, who said the gardaí didn’t arrive until after the youths had fled onto the track.
Gardaí have not made any arrests but are carrying out an investigation of criminal damage in tandem with Irish Rail.
Irish Rail would not release CCTV footage of the incident as it is now part of a criminal investigation. Plans are being made to increase security at the station.
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