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Saturday 23 September 2017

Gardai in hunt for gang who shot and robbed rural gun-owner

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

GARDAI are hunting for a gang of men after a man was beaten, tied up and shot in an attack at his rural cottage.

Gary Lee (32) was yesterday being treated in hospital for facial injuries and a gunshot wound to his arm after the ordeal at his home at Rathduffmore, near Knockananna, on the Carlow-Wicklow border.

A number of men entered the remote cottage and demanded Mr Lee, a hunting enthusiast, hand over any firearms in the house. It is understood that two shotguns and a rifle, all of which are legally owned, are missing.

The incident unfolded around 10pm on Wednesday as the men, at least one of whom was believed armed, entered Mr Lee's cottage, where he lived alone with three guard dogs.

It is understood he was beaten around the head, his arms were cable-tied together and he was shot in the arm during the incident.

Despite being tied, the injured man later managed to make his way around 200 yards up the road to a neighbour's house, who helped raise the alarm at around 10.30pm.

Mr Lee was rushed to Naas General Hospital before being transferred to Tallaght Hospital, where his condition was yesterday described as stable.

"We are keeping on open mind on the incident," a garda spokesman said last night as he appealed for anyone who may have seen anything to contact Baltinglass garda station.

A forensic examination got under way at the cottage yesterday, as gardai probed the motive for the attack and catalogued any items suspected missing from the man's home.

Drugged

Gardai called in Abbeyleix vet Peter Griffin to help sedate and take blood samples from the three guard dogs at the premises to probe whether they had been drugged so as the men could enter the home.

Officers encountered a Rottweiler on a chain, a second loose in the hallway of the home and a third guard dog, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, tied at the back of the house.

One of the Rottweilers was lying in the open doorway of the home, where bloodied marks were visible on the walls, with further splatters on the floor.

There were also clothes, a torch and a motorcycle helmet strewn on the floor of the hallway. There were two motorbikes parked at the house and a maroon four-wheel drive with a pair of deer antlers attached to the bullbars.

Mr Lee, who was understood to have previously worked as a carpenter, was believed to have moved to the scenic location around five years ago.

One neighbour said the people in the house where the injured man had gone for help got an "unmerciful fright".

"He went there and the two wrists were tied. It could have been 10.30pm or 10.40pm the phone rang here, the woman down the road rang and said Gary was shot and beaten up," a neighbour said, adding the man had been described as bleeding heavily.

"He was shot in one of the arms, the right arm I think. They beat him with a bat or something. They are saying he was in a bad state."

People living in the area said the man's dogs could usually be heard barking and they were highly protective of the house.

One of the neighbours said he had not noticed anything untoward on the night of the attack.

"It's a very quiet remote area. I'm here 40 years and I've never seen anything like it," the neighbour said.

Irish Independent

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