GARDAI are hunting a masked gang who viciously attacked an elderly couple during the second break-in at their home in the space of a month.
Joan and Jim Louth were beaten with a firearm during the incident, which occurred off the Main Street in Duleek, Co Meath, at 7pm last Tuesday.
The couple, who are in their 70s, were watching television when three masked men burst into their home and demanded to know where their valuables were kept.
Gardai believe a fourth member of the gang stayed outside to keep watch.
During their ordeal, the Louths were beaten with a firearm and Joan was jabbed in the neck with her own insulin syringe.
After taking a number of items from the house, the raiders locked the couple into the bathroom, where they shouted for help through the window.
Mrs Louth was taken to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, where she was kept overnight and treated for minor injuries.
Gardai believe the men, who spoke with local accents, fled in a car towards the Donore area.
It's the second reported break-in at their home in the last month.
Gardai have not yet ruled out a link between the two incidents.
The assault has left Duleek residents in shock as the Louths are well-known business people in the village.
The couple ran the local post-office and supermarket on the Main Street for over 20 years. Their sons, Ian and Seamus, now run the outlets.
After the incident, Ian said his parents were "in a state of shock" and appealed "for anyone who may have noticed anything" to go to gardai. Local publican and next-door neighbour Seamus O'Neill said it was "a very frightening experience for a couple that should be enjoying their retirement years".
"It's terrifying to think that this was happening when everyone else was going home from work or having their tea," he said.
"It was only 7pm at night, so we're hoping someone may have noticed something in the Station Road/Ryan's Park area of the village."
Meath Crime Prevention Officer Sgt Dean Kerins described the incident as a "particularly violent attack" adding that gardai were carrying out door-to-door inquiries as part of the investigation.
Anyone who may have passed a car at speed between Donore and Duleek or noticed anything suspicious can contact Ashbourne gardai on 01-8351515.