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Couple fight off thugs after violent break-in at home

A middle-aged couple fought off two thugs who smashed their way into their home early yesterday, forcing them to leave empty-handed.

Yesterday family and friends rallied around the home of William and Colette Gilcrest of Ballinalee, Co Longford.

The couple, who are originally from Northern Ireland, have lived in the small rural community for the past 10 years and have two children, Michael Patrick and Colette junior.

The couple, aged 61 and 60, awoke when they heard a window being shattered at the rear of their home in Lisameen, Ballinalee, around 1am.


They were confronted by two men, armed with iron bars and masked in balaclava hoods.

The couple refused to hand over any cash or valuables and a scuffle broke out, during which the two were assaulted.

Mr Gilcrest was struck on the arm with a bar and his wife was hit on the head during the struggle. The two thugs then retreated from the house and fled from the scene.

Their 15-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter were also in the house at the time but neither was injured.

Both victims were taken to Mullingar general hospital for treatment.

Mrs Gilcrest was discharged later in the day while her husband was kept overnight. But his injuries were described as not life-threatening.

Gardai at Granard station last night appealed for information about the incident. They said they were particularly anxious to hear from anybody who was in the Ballinalee area between 12.30am and 1.30am and noticed a couple of men acting suspiciously.

A family spokesperson told the Irish Independent: "We are upset enough at what happened and do not want to speak to anyone, thanks."

It's understood the couple have an interest in dog breeding and were described by locals as "a quiet couple who kept to themselves".

Yesterday gardai carried out a detailed examination of their home along with house-to-house inquiries of neighbours.

Local postmaster Councillor Michael Carrigy (FG) said that there was "much shock and alarm" over the incident and he appealed to anyone with information to pass it on to the investigating garda team, led by Longford Superintendent Dermot Mahon.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact local gardai or the Garda Confidential Line at 1800-666-111.

Irish Independent