'He did this with two children watching' - Hitchhiker describes horrific knife attack while seated between two youngsters
A hitchhiker has described the horrific moment when he was stabbed in broad daylight while sitting in a car with two children on either side.
Merek, a Polish man, had been travelling to Longford last Thursday afternoon to buy a car he had spotted on DoneDeal when the attack took place.
Speaking on RTE Radio One’s Liveline, Merek’s friend Linda described his journey, which involved getting a bus to Galway and a train to Athlone.
He decided he would try to hail a lift the rest of the way so he could enjoy the nice weather, and a family driving in a white Nissan hatchback soon picked him up.
“He stopped a car, it was a family model with a man, woman and two children inside - one was 5-6 months old in a baby car seat, the other was 7- or 8-years-old,” she said.
“He climbs into the car, he starts chatting and he was saying what he was doing on the road and why he was going to Longford in the first place.
“About 15 minutes into the journey, the locks went on in the car.”
Merek believed that the female passenger had send a text to someone else, as the driver headed down a by-road and a green Audi A6 soon appeared.
The driver stopped the car, and a man and woman began approaching from the other vehicle.
Merek had just €350 in cash to pay for the second-hand car, but he quickly threw his wallet out when the door was opened.
“He said, ‘take my money’, but they proceeded to stab him, with the two children still sitting beside him,” said Linda.
The driver and the two passengers from the other car each produced knives, and reached over the children to stab Merek’s legs from his knees to his ankles.
“He remembers that the man who was driving looked happy doing this, that was the scary part of it.
"He didn’t just put him on the side of the road and run with his wallet, he did this with two children watching,” his friend told the programme.
Merek was stabbed so many times that when paramedics eventually arrived he was told he was “five minutes from losing his life”.
He was in surgery for three hours, and still is unable to walk, although the damage is not permanent.
Merek has been living with his family in Ireland for five years, and said that the brutal attack hadn’t affected his feelings about Ireland.
“I was assured it was a very friendly, very safe country, and this incident hasn’t changed that,” he said.