A 68-year-old town mayor took on a robber she found in her kitchen at 4am with a sweeping brush.
A garda officer said yesterday the mayor of Ballinasloe, Carmel Grealy, gave a good account of herself but suffered cuts and bruises in the encounter with the intruder who was carrying a hammer.
Yesterday, Niall Lynch, who had also robbed the home of an 80-year-old man, was sentenced to eight years in prison with three suspended for the burglaries last year.
Lynch (24) of Aonach, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court to burglary at the home of the 80-year-old man at Jubilee Street, Ballinasloe, on July 28 last year and to assaulting the man and threatening him with a knife.
Lynch also pleaded guilty to a burglary six weeks later – while out on bail – at the home of the Ballinasloe Mayor Carmel Grealy, at Brackernagh, Ballinasloe, on September 15.
He also pleaded guilty to assaulting the mayor and to having a hammer in his possession at the time.
Superintendent Gerry Roche said both victims' lives had been turned upside down by the break-ins and they were left fearful in their own homes.
Mayor Grealy suffered cuts and bruises to her head and face in the altercation, he said.
The elderly man, Supt Roche said, had a knife held to his throat during an hour-long ordeal. Lynch punched him, threatened him with a knife and stole his wallet, which contained €85, his mobile phone and keys.
He was spotted by a woman as he tried to bring the man to an ATM machine and fled.
Supt Roche said Lynch had been in and out of prison all his life and had drink and drug addictions. He was highly intoxicated at the time of the offences.
Judge Rory McCabe sentenced Lynch to four years in prison for both burglaries to run consecutively. He said the sentences had to be consecutive because Lynch committed the second burglary while on bail.
The judge suspended the final three years on condition that on his release Lynch continues to receive addiction treatment and counselling.