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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Pensioner who cycled 30 miles in terror has never returned home

Published 21/01/2014 | 02:30

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Shane Donnellan, Noel Garry and Joseph Lernihan (Left to right)
Pensioner's terror ordeal
Joseph Lernihan

A PENSIONER living in isolation fled his home in terror, cycling 30 miles in darkness in fear of thieves who had vowed to rob him a third time.

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Bachelor Michael McMahon (68) packed up his few belongings and abandoned his home in rural Cree near Doonbeg, West Clare, after being terrorised by thugs.

He set off on his bike to cycle the eight hours to Ennis where he checked himself into a nursing home.

In a terrifying ordeal, robbers had taken a substantial sum of money from him on two separate occasions - using the metal rung of a fence in the guise of a gun - and threatened to come back for €50,000.

Mr McMahon lived alone in a remote location two miles from the village of Cooraclare in a house without electricity or running water.

However, since the attack two years ago, Mr McMahon has been too frightened to return home and has been living in a nursing home ever since, despite good health.

He had received an inheritance from a relative in America and had been in the habit of visiting his bank in Kilrush two or three times a year to withdraw €3,000 in cash.

He would live on that for three to five months, storing the money in jars at his home.

At 10pm on February 21, 2012, Mr McMahon heard banging outside his home and could see three torches in the darkness outside.

The gang smashed three windows of Mr McMahon's home and he saw three hooded people outside who demanded €500.

In a state of "absolute fear" he handed them three jars containing roughly €4,000 in cash.

One of the robbers told Mr McMahon: "No gardai. We won't be back. We won't get mad."

Afterwards, Mr McMahon felt weak and fearful but made no complaint to gardai.

The following day, he went to the AIB in Kilrush to withdraw €3,000 from his bank account since he had no cash left in the house, and blocked up the broken windows with blocks and turf.

But four nights later on February 25, the robbers returned. Removing blocks from one of his broken windows, they pushed through the rung of a gate, resembling a gun.

Mr McMahon heard one of the robbers say: "You f****n' bastard. You must have a gun and I'll shoot you if you go into the other room."

He opened the door and saw four people outside. One of these brought Mr McMahon out to the rear of the house while the others searched the house.

They requested Mr McMahon's assistance to locate money in the house as they had only found a small amount in a jar.

Mr McMahon retrieved the remainder of the money - around €3,000 - and gave it to the robbers who then demanded his bank books. Seeing a substantial sum of money listed, they instructed him to go to the bank the following Monday to withdraw €50,000.

If he contacted the gardai, they would come back and "burn his house down," they said.

Later that night, Mr McMahon gathered up his belongings and cycled all the way to Ennis, checking himself into St Joseph's nursing home.

COMPLAINT

On arrival, he made a complaint to gardai and remained at St Joseph's for two days before being transferred to St Theresa's nursing home in Kilrush where he lives today.

Three men have pleaded guilty to robbing Mr McMahon.

Joseph Lernihan (21), of Finnanon Park, Mullagh, pleaded guilty to robbing Mr McMahon at Drumellihy West, Cree, on February 21 and 25, 2012, with Shane Donnellan (20), of Clohanbeg, Cree, Kilrush, and Noel Garry (20), of Tullycrine, Kilrush, pleading guilty to the robbery of Mr McMahon on February 25, 2012.

Sentencing at Ennis Circuit Court was adjourned until March 3 to await probation reports.

Eamon Timmins, of Age Action, said the robbery reflected the graphic impact crime could have on victims, particularly older people.

He said in instances where older people were robbed, it created many more victims in the community as other older people in the area lived in fear.

Gordon Deegan

Irish Independent

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