Sunday 22 September 2019

'The sound of smashed glass can bring it all back' - family describe horror of violent home raid

Three men broke into the home of Gerry and Anne Garvey in April 2012 - before two of the men subjected Gerry and Anne’s three elderly neighbours to a brutal and frightening assault just weeks later

Alan Freeman (left) Philip Roche (centre) and Patrick Roche (right) outside Limerick Circuit Court
Alan Freeman (left) Philip Roche (centre) and Patrick Roche (right) outside Limerick Circuit Court
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

A father whose family endured a terrifying ordeal when a number of masked men broke into their home said the sound of smashed glass can "bring it all back".

Three men broke into the home of Gerry and Anne Garvey in Pallasgreen, Limerick in April 2012.

The raiders broke into the family home and tied up Gerry and Anne, and their four children, and assaulted them.

The gang also threatened Mr Garvey at gunpoint, before they fled the house with cash.

Just weeks later, Gerry and Anne’s three elderly neighbours were subjected to a brutal and frightening assault when they were attacked and robbed by two of the same men.

In May 2012, two men broke into the isolated rural home of pensioner siblings Willie, Nora and Chrissie Creed, at Ballyluddy, Pallasgreen.

The three men, 54-year-old Patrick Roche, his son Philip Roche aged 24, both with addresses in Clondalkin in Dublin, and a son-in-law Alan Freeman with an address in Tipperary town, were recently given lengthy prison sentences for their parts in the two violent robberies.

Speaking on Today with Sean O'Rourke, Gerry described the moment he knew something was wrong.

"I was doing a study course studying for an exam, it was 8.30pm on a Monday," Gerry said.

"Everything was quiet, the kids were watching TV next door.

"I heard a loud bang. I initially thought, 'what have they broken now?', with teenagers next door.

"Then I heard a second bang, smashing glass, and a few seconds later I saw the butt of a sawn-off shotgun and four raiders were there.

"They were absolutely masked, head to toe."

Anne was having a bath upstairs at the time and said she had "no idea what was going on downstairs."

"My son came up, he gabbled there was something, but he couldn't say it properly what it was.

"I did get an opportunity to sit up and cover myself. I was in the bath, which is your worst nightmare."

Anne added; "He came in and it was fairly shocking. To be honest, I thought it was a joke at first."

Anne said she was concerned for her children.

She described how one of the men put his foot on one of her son's shoulders after they were told to lie down.

Her husband Gerry told of his fear after he was forced down to the ground and handcuffed.

"The shotgun was forced into my forehead for some time.

"It was a frightening moment. I felt helpless, there was nothing you could do to help yourself or your family.

"We just went into survival mode, thinking we have to get through this.

"If they want something, let them, so long as we're safe."

The raiders opened a safe in the house and took dollars and sterling that the family had for an upcoming Disney World Florida holiday.

"There was the usual shouting and screaming, saying 'we'll blow your head off', ''we'll take your children'," Gerry said.

"It probably felt a lot longer than it was. We estimated they were here for four minutes.

"We got the distinct impression they wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible."

He continued; "Our front gates were never locked up to this event.

"Time is a great healer, and we have moved on. You'll move on and you'll get over it but you'll never forget it.

"If someone were to smash a glass now at this minute, it would bring it all back."

Gerry and Anne said they felt their family got justice once the three men were sentenced to sentences of 17, 15 and 14 years.

"What I find difficult to believe is someone who has 139 previous convictions can be out, I think the whole system needs to be changed," Ann said.

"The children are good, getting on with their lives.

"Again, they're pleased with the result. One of the biggest things we got was support from our local garda."

Anne said they also felt justice for their neighbours who had endured a two-and-a-half-hour attack in which "they were left for dead".

"it's been nearly six years and they don't go out.

"We don't see them," Anne continued.

"I remember bringing Willie Creed home and arriving into the farmyard and meeting Chrissy and she was snow white.

"Like the last time I had seen her, she had black hair, I was just shocked.

"I've since been told she doesn't go out, not even to Mass."

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