MAGICIAN Keith Barry said last night he fears his grandfather might not pull through after a vicious robbery left him fighting for his life in hospital.
Paddy Barry suffered bleeding on the brain, a broken arm and facial injuries in the attack.
"He's in a bad, bad way and we don't really know what to expect," he told the Irish Independent last night. "We just have to wait and see."
And, in a heartfelt plea to the Government, he said his grandfather was "not a statistic" and called for urgent action to tackle crime against the elderly.
Neighbours of the popular 82-year-old widower and his well-known grandson confirmed yesterday that a spate of burglaries around the formerly quiet residential area where Paddy Barry lived alone had made him fear for his life.
Paddy's family were keeping a bedside vigil at Waterford Regional Hospital last night. However, the elderly man remained unresponsive and in a critical condition for a second day after the attack at his home.
Neighbours at De La Salle Avenue were yesterday installing new alarms and security systems in an attempt to ward off future burglaries.
A man was released from garda custody last night and a file will be sent to the DPP.
"He said to a few of us, many times, that he was living in fear and I don't think he was alone," Keith Barry said.
"Other people around there are frightened out of their wits. Sometimes we underestimate how much they're living in fear."
He launched an angry attack on the Government for not bringing in legislation giving greater protection to householders defending their property. He called for mandatory three-year prison sentences for anyone who breaks into an elderly person's home.
Other residents of De La Salle Avenue also told of their fears.
One woman whose house was targeted earlier in the year said that she had lived on the street for 56 years and had known Mr Barry throughout that time.
"He's a lovely man," she said. "He was always terrified of a break-in."
Another man, who was installing a security camera for his mother, said that crime was "never a problem" in the area until recently.
"We've had a few break-ins now lately and people are putting in alarms."
One woman close to Mr Barry's house said it was "a bloody disgrace" what had happened to the elderly widower.
"It would frighten you really, it's terrible. He's a quiet man, you would see him walking up and down the road and say hello. He kept to himself and never bothered anyone."
A former postal worker, Paddy Barry lived alone following the death of his wife, Nancy, some years ago.
"He was a very healthy 82-year-old," said his grandson.
"He was enjoying life and for it to be taken from him is just disgraceful, whatever the thugs were thinking of."
It is understood that at least two young men called to Mr Barry's front door at about 9.40pm on Wednesday.
When he answered the door, he was assaulted. According to Keith Barry he was able to say a few words to gardai when they arrived on the scene but lost consciousness shortly afterwards.