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Sunday 15 September 2019

'I'm still very shaken' - elderly woman (85) who was victim of aggravated burglary

The house in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, where a woman in her 80s was threatened. Photo: Damien Eagers
The house in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, where a woman in her 80s was threatened. Photo: Damien Eagers

Ian Begley and Robin Schiller

An 85-year-old woman and a 90-year-old man had a firearm pointed at them during two separate aggravated burglaries in Co Cavan.

A young criminal and his sister were last night being quizzed by gardaí over the burglaries targeting pensioners in Ballyjamesduff.

The elderly woman told the Irish Independent that she managed to alert gardaí through a panic alarm in her home.

"They just came in through the front," she said.

"I was so scared, especially since I'm living on my own.

"The two had Dublin accents and pointed a gun at me while demanding that I co-operate.

"They stole some jewellery and money, but thankfully I wasn't hurt.

"Luckily I have a panic alarm which alerted the guards straight away.

"They were very helpful and I have my family who are now taking care of me.

"I'm still very shaken."

The two suspects also made their way to a 90-year-old's home on the other side of Ballyjamesduff.

They escaped with a quantity of cash and personal belongings, with the man left shaken by the incident.

It is understood that he was taken to hospital the following day.

A neighbour of the 90-year-old told the Irish Independent that this is the second time he had been robbed within the past number of years. "The first time around, thieves broke into his house and stole his car. It was later found burnt out," they said.

"I'm sure he's very traumatised by what happened on Sunday - he was even taken to hospital this morning."

When the alarm was raised, a number of Garda mobile units were immediately deployed in the area.

A short time later, gardaí spotted the suspects' getaway car on the main street in Virginia, Co Cavan - leading to a chase.

According to a source, a Garda vehicle was slightly damaged while forcing the car to a complete stop.

The occupants of the car, a man and woman, were arrested and brought to Bailieboro garda station.

The older sibling is a male in his late 20s, who only recently completed a prison term for producing an article.

The man is originally from the Tyrrelstown area and has been linked to burglaries in Co Cavan that go back almost a decade.

He is well-known to gardaí and while serving his sentence in Mountjoy jail was involved in a tense stand-off with officials after collecting drugs thrown over the prison wall.

His sister, who is aged in her early 20s, has nowhere near the convictions of her brother but has been arrested on suspicion of theft in the past.

They are both currently detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984.

No firearms have been recovered.

Cavan TD Niamh Smith said targeting elderly people in their homes had a devastating impact on those affected.

"These victims will be traumatised for the rest of their days," she said.

"While rural crime in this country is on the rise, criminals forcing their way into elderly residents' homes while pointing a gun in their face is a new low.

"I suspect the people who did this had information on the area and knew what type of people to target.

"I doubt it was a coincidence that the two people they robbed were elderly.

"Elderly people in rural Ireland are really scared. On numerous occasions I've called for extra resources to be put into rural constituencies," she said.

A technical and forensic examination of the scenes has been carried out.

Investigating gardaí have also recovered some of the property taken during the burglaries.

Investigations are ongoing.

Irish Independent

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