'I'm not going to let them beat me' - Great-grandad (100) slams thugs who raided his home as 'cowards'
'The man was holding me down so hard I couldn't even move my head. I had to sit there and say nothing'
A 100-year-old great-grandfather has branded the callous thugs who held him down as they raided his home "cowards".
Pat Gillespie said he was back fighting fit and ready to celebrate his 101st birthday in December, saying: "I'm not going to let them beat me."
Mr Gillespie, a well-known figure in Strabane, Co Tyrone, endured a horrific ordeal on Friday night when three masked men forced their way into his Railway Street home.
The gang held him in his chair while they ransacked his bedroom. They made off with a sum of cash, leaving Mr Gillespie shocked and shaken.
Recalling the incident, he said: "On Friday night, I was watching television in the kitchen. The door burst open and three men wearing black clothes and balaclavas came in. One of them held me down firmly in the chair and the other two went into my bedroom down the hall.
"The man was holding me down so hard I couldn't even move my head. I had to sit there and say nothing.
"They wrecked my bedroom looking for money. They pulled out all the drawers, threw things everywhere, they even threw the mattress and blankets on the floor, but there was nothing there. Whatever little money I had, I had it in my trouser pocket," he said.
Mr Gillespie said once they found the money in his pocket "they were away".
The raiders ripped the pensioner's emergency alarm off his neck during the course of the robbery, which lasted around 10 minutes.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't afraid," he said.
"I was very afraid but I had sense enough not to resist, because they were there to get money and if they didn't get it, they were going to find out where some was. In the process they could have given me a real hammering.
"I have read in the paper about what robbers have done, torturing people and pouring boiling water over them. Thank God that didn't happen but it was on my mind the whole time they were there.
"I just did what I was told because I knew that they could overpower me. I am fairly fit but I couldn't have managed three of them. They were big hefty men."
He added: "It knocked my confidence for a short time. But I'm back to normal now, fighting fit. This will not stop me, I'm just getting up and getting on with it. I'm not going to let these people get me down.
"They are cowards but I'm not going to let them beat me."
Mr Gillespie thanked the people of Strabane for their support. They have offered a reward for the capture of the three men and have also raised enough money to get a high-tech security system fitted at his home.