A SAVAGE assault on a former business consultant by burglars who broke into his home may have been a result of mistaken identity.
It was the second break-in at the home of 63-year-old Niall Sweeney within a week.
Gardai believe the burglars were under the impression that Mr Sweeney was involved in a cash business and had ready access to money at his home at Fortfield Road, Terenure, in south Dublin.
They made off empty handed after the incident at 9.30pm on Thursday and did not find any cash either on the previous Friday.
Mr Sweeney was struck three times on the head with a hatchet handle after he and his 16-year-old son, Mark, struggled with three masked men after they had been threatened.
The raiders ran out of the house after Mr Sweeney's wife returned home and started screaming when she pulled into the driveway of her house and noticed masked men there.
A fourth member of the gang was keeping a lookout at the front of the house and was said to have been in touch with the rest of the gang by a walkie-talkie. Gardai were quickly on the scene and established that the gang had made their escape in a red van.
Shortly afterwards, a garda patrol spotted a red van, which fitted the description of the getaway vehicle, and intercepted it.
Officers arrested a 34-year-old from Clondalkin in west Dublin. Gardai said he was not known to them previously.
The suspect was questioned throughout yesterday at Terenure garda station.
He can be detained without charge for up to seven days. The ordeal for the Sweeney family on Thursday night began when the consultant answered a knock at his front door.
Three men forced their way into the house and immediately demanded money.
Mr Sweeney told them he did not have any money in the house and was then assaulted with the hatchet as his son went to his aid.
Mr Sweeney was taken to St James's Hospital for treatment for his head wounds but his condition was said to have improved last night. A family source said: "He is extremely shaken by the whole thing – they all are."
Brendan Murphy, a former business partner and life-long friend, told the Irish Independent that Mr Sweeney wouldn't have kept large sums of money in his house, as he was an ordinary "PAYE worker".
He said the father of two teenage sons works for a distribution company, which supplies products to pharmacies and supermarkets.
"He's a wonderful person, a great friend and he's got a spectacular career," he said.
"I know Niall very well and worked with him throughout his career. They don't come much nicer then him and this is such a terrible thing to happen to a person like him.
"I can't imagine him having much money in the house. He worked in an ordinary job and got paid like a PAYE worker into his bank account."
Gardai last night appealed to anyone who was in the Fortfield Road, Lavarna Road or Kimmage Cross Road areas of Dublin 6 between 9pm and 10pm on Thursday, or who noticed a red transit-type van in the area, to contact Terenure station at 01 666 6400, or phone the confidential line on 1800 666111.