Major manhunt for gang who terrorised family during raid
Published 11/04/2014 | 02:30
A FAMILY who were tied up and terrorised in their own home may have been victims of mistaken identity.
Daniel and Miriam O'Connell, who have two girls aged nine, six and a four-year-old boy were locked in a bathroom while the gang searched for cash.
A major manhunt was underway last night for the four men who were armed with handguns.
The drama unfolded at 9.30pm in the townland of Ballingoola near Grange, Bruff.
The four men, who were all masked and had their faces covered, entered the rural home by an unlocked back door.
The gang of men immediately started to demand to know where a man named 'John' was. The family insisted no person by that name lived there.
The three siblings and their mother were tied up and locked inside the sitting room of the home while the father was bound with cable ties and brought to a bedroom where the questioning persisted.
He continued to inform the culprits that no person called 'John' lived there and one of the men took his phone from him.
The four armed men left the property shortly after 10pm.
Visibly shaken by the terrifying robbery, Mr O'Connell (46) said: "I don't want to talk about it right now. I don't want to make any comment. There were children involved."
Superintendent Alan Cunningham of Bruff Garda station, said the three children were "shocked and traumatised" by the dramatic events.
"We are appealing for anyone who saw any suspicious activity or cars in the area between 9.30pm and 11pm to contact us at Bruff Garda station on 061-382940," he said.
The house at Ballingoola is located about eight miles from Limerick City.
Neighbours in the quiet idyllic rural setting were shocked and left asking questions as to why Mr and Mrs O'Connell had been targeted.
Local farmer Sean Madden (75) said: "We're all shocked. Nothing like this has ever happened around here before. Nothing like this."
Gardai said an amount of cash was stolen from Mr O'Connell's wallet, but it is unclear at this stage how much was taken in the "serious aggravated burglary".
Supt Cunningham said all CCTV in the wider area is being examined to try to trace the getaway car used by the gang.
Some of the gang are believed to have spoken with Northern Irish accents. "They were a professional outfit," a source said.