Tuesday 20 February 2018

Night of terror for family struck by raiders

Vicious gang targets couple threatening to hurt their daughters

A garda at the scene of the robbery in Killenaule, Co Tipperary
A garda at the scene of the robbery in Killenaule, Co Tipperary
The broken window at the front of the house
Mark and Emma Corcoran
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

People are disgusted, they were horrified to think there were three children here. It is outrageous

They came for money and they weren't leaving without it. Businessman Mark Corcoran could simply not comprehend how the ruthless gang could be so "vicious", as every family's worst nightmare unfolded in an idyllic, rural bungalow.

The hooded armed gang had struck at the Corcorans' weak spot – by threatening to harm their three beautiful young girls.

"They're going to kill my daddy. They're going to kill my daddy," were the words screamed by one of their young daughters, as she awoke in the middle of the ordeal and witnessed her father tied-up.

It took just minutes for the peaceful rural idyll to be irrevocably shattered in the Corcorans' family home as a hooded gang armed with guns and hatchets struck in the early morning darkness.

Just after 3am both Mark and his wife Emma heard pounding on the door of their bungalow, located on a remote cul-de-sac on the hillside of Laffanbridge, outside Killenaule, Co Tipperary.

After the gang failed to make it in through the door with sledge hammers, they then smashed their way in through the couple's double-glazed sitting room window.

"They burst my face open straight away with the butt of a gun," Mark recounted to neighbours in the hours after the shocking ordeal.

The well-regarded businessman – who runs Crazyfitathome.ie, a business selling workout equipment with Emma – told people living in the quiet countryside area that he simply could not believe people could be "so vicious".

It is understood the hardworking pair, who set up their business several years ago, had already been awake, as he was due to hit the road early for work.

After Mark came running from the back of the house, the raiders incapacitated him with a blow from the butt of a gun, before tying him up.

"They had no interest in anything else, all they wanted was money and they took jewellery," a relative said.

"They weren't interested in anything else – not televisions or computers – just money."

They untied Emma, only to swing and drag her around the room and haul her by the hair down to the other end of the house, as they demanded she open the safe and hand over whatever money they had.

"They are animals and ruthless, the family are living there all their lives," said a local.

People in the area described how Emma had been "traumatised" by the ordeal, while family members helped look after the young girls.

Relatives gathered at nearby home of Emma's brother, Paul O'Dwyer.

"They are too shocked to talk about it," they said.

After the family managed to raise the alarm and gardai arrived on scene, Mark received medical treatment for the facial injuries, which had left his nose bandaged and an eye badly swollen.

"He is traumatised and concerned about his wife and kids, the most important thing is they are okay," a relative said.

SMASHED

"We are decent honest people living in rural Ireland. We never heard tell of the likes happening in the area, you hear about it in the papers but you don't expect it to happen to you."

A garda stood at the gate as a forensics team was due to arrive to search for evidence throughout the bungalow.

The signs of the horror inflicted on the Corcorans could be seen from the road, as shocked neighbours paused to look at the smashed front window.

Photos of the family's beautiful children on their first day at school could be seen on shelves.

No one approaching the house could have been in any doubt that this was a family home.

In the garden children's toys could be seen – anyone entering that house would have had to pass by a bicycle, a trampoline, a swing and a playhouse.

The gang targeting the house would be aware there were young children asleep in their beds.

Neighbours were puzzled.

They could not understand why a gang would target such a family, as their business would deal mainly with credit card transactions for workout equipment rather than hard cash.

"People are disgusted, they were horrified to think there were three children here.

"It is outrageous and it shouldn't be happening," said neighbour and Fine Gael councillor John Fahy.

"They'll get over it. They'll have to," he added.

Irish Independent

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