DETECTIVES are probing a possible drugs link to the discovery of a naked and beaten man inside a taped up wheelie bin.
The man in his 20s was found by a retriever dog who picked up his scent from the bin near Sentry Hill, Ballymena, on Tuesday.
Three men and a woman were arrested on Wednesday in the Ballymena area and are being questioned by detectives.
Sources said Mazie the dog had helped make the grim discovery.
“She first of all pricked up her ears when she heard banging. Then she followed her nose to the bid,” said a local man.
“Her owner then followed her over and discovered the bin was taped shut.
“He removed the tape, lifted the lid and found this young man inside who was naked and his body covered in sweat.
“It looked to him that they had also tried to set the bin on fire.
“But because the bin lid was tape shut the fire was starved of oxygen which meant it didn’t ignite.’
“The man got him out of the bin and then rang the police and ambulance service.”
The victim of the assault was rushed to the Antrim Area Hospital for treatment.
He is in a stable condition with a broken arm and leg along bruising to his body.
Detectives believe the victim may have been assaulted in another party of Ballymena before taken to Sentry Hill.
One line of inquiry being probed is that assault may be linked to the drugs trade in Ballymena.
The senior detective leading the investigation confirmed the victim was found by a person out walking a dog.
Said Det Chief Inspector Tracey Mageean: “At this time, I do not believe that there is a sectarian motive nor do I consider that it is paramilitary related.”
She appealed for anyone who saw suspicious activity in the Doury Road, Dunclug or Dunvale areas of Ballymena on Tuesday afternoon to contact police.
DUP MLA Paul Frew said: “I have been told by police that the incident didn’t happen in the park.
“They believe the young man was beaten somewhere else and taken to Sentry Hill. People are very shocked because this is normally a very quiet area.”