Monday 12 November 2018

Gardai liaising with PSNI to identify four men as grandmother (83) left fighting for life after 'violent' burglary

The Aughnacloy home where Pat Davison was injured. Photo: Photopress Belfast
The Aughnacloy home where Pat Davison was injured. Photo: Photopress Belfast

Allan Preston and Cate McCurry

A grandmother is fighting for her life after a violent and “depraved” burglary in her home left her with a fractured spine, skull and pelvis.

Pat Davidson (83) was left for dead in the garden of her house on Sydney Road, Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone, by four intruders on Tuesday night.

Police said a local man had disturbed four males in the property around 9pm before he found Ms Davidson lying outside beneath an upstairs open window.

Ambulance crews treated her in the garden before taking her to hospital.

Police are treating the incident as attempted murder and believe it may be linked to three other robberies that day in Aughnacloy, Ballygawley and Seskinore. A black car was seen leaving Sydney Road following the incident , with a similar vehicle also seen at two of the other burglaries.

PSNI Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that the PSNI is treating the incident as an "attempted murder".

"We are looking for two cars. The first is a dark coloured car with the licence plate GK56AEG. The second car is silver with the licence plate 06WX6313. We believe both plates were false.

"We've conducted this major investigation working very closely with our colleagues in the forensics service in Northern Ireland and our colleagues in An Garda Siochana to try identify who these four men are and if offences have been committed to bring them to justice."

Speaking yesterday, Mr Murphy said that "there is no indication that these men specifically targeted an elderly person".

"We know that there were three other burglaries in this general area.

"We want to reassure the public. There is no indication that these men specifically targeted an elderly person.

"We would appeal for anyone with dash cameras to check their footage. We also appeal for these four men to make themselves known to police."

Ms Davidson is a respected member of Aughnacloy Presbyterian Church and runs a poultry business from her back garden.

The church’s minister, Rev Ian McKee, said the community was “shocked and sickened” by the cowardly robbery.

“This is a very godly lady in her 80s, nobody deserves anything like this,” he said.

“I visited her in intensive care and she has a long road ahead of her. I think everybody is reeling from what happened.

“Her husband (Billy) died 15 years ago and her two boys, Jonathan and Wesley, came up through the church as well.

“She’s very well known and respected in the community and she was still very active at her age in looking after her poultry business.”

He added: “I spoke to one of her sons and it’s very hard for them to come to terms with.

“We want to be very positive and are praying hard for her and the family.

“It just beggars belief that someone would do something like this to anybody, but especially to an elderly lady.

“I just hope that in time they will see the error of their ways. Sadly, attacks on pensioners are all too common.”

A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: "This has left us all really shocked. Nothing like this happens in this area. It's a very quiet and friendly place to live.

"Pat is a lovely woman, she is very friendly and still very active. We hope she makes a full recovery in hospital. We can't believe what happened to her."

Facing Sydney Street is St James' Church of Ireland, where Rev Glen West urged residents to remain vigilant.

"This is upsetting for the whole community. We hear stories about break-ins on a regular basis and it's very disconcerting for everyone," he said.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, who is an MLA for the area, described the assault as "depraved". "Their actions are impossible to fathom," she said.

"No doubt this will have been a terrifying experience for the woman involved, especially since it took place within a quiet area. Coming to terms with an incident like this will be very difficult."

With the recent spate of burglaries in the area, she urged the PSNI to robustly investigate the matter and for the public to report any suspicious activity.

Sinn Fein MLA Colm Gildernew added: "There is no place for attacks like this in our society. It is extremely concerning as there were similar burglaries in the area that night.

"It was a disgusting incident and the community in Aughnacloy are genuinely shocked about what has happened."

Ulster Unionist MLA Rosemary Barton said she was "absolutely disgusted" by what happened.

"These are clearly very dangerous people who must be caught," she said. "People have a right to feel safe in their own homes without fear of anyone causing them harm and my thoughts are with the lady who was injured and I hope she makes a full recovery.

"I know that the police are treating the incident as attempted murder, and once these individuals are caught it is imperative that the courts impose sentences that fit the seriousness of this crime. We simply cannot have people like this roaming the countryside."

Information can be passed to police in Dungannon by dialling 101, quoting reference 1218 of January 23, or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Irish Independent

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