Tuesday 25 June 2019

Visually impaired farmer (77) pinned to the floor, beaten and threatened by masked trio in house raid

Three masked men ransacked an elderly farmer's home for his life savings

A garda outside the home of Joseph Waters in Kildangan, Co Offaly
A garda outside the home of Joseph Waters in Kildangan, Co Offaly

Mark O'Regan

A visually impaired farmer was pinned to the floor, viciously beaten with sticks and threatened with a knife as three masked men ransacked his home for his life savings.

Joseph Waters, a 77-year-old bachelor, was sitting at his kitchen table in his rural bungalow in the Kildangan area of Durrow, Co Offaly, when the gang broke in at around 8pm on Monday.

He was struck a number of times on the body, suffering a particularly severe "belt" to his head.

The attack comes just months after another farmer, 54-year-old Richie McKelvey, was attacked by a gang in his house near Birr.

PJ Gorman, a neighbour of Joseph Waters
PJ Gorman, a neighbour of Joseph Waters

Neighbour PJ Gorman said Mr Waters was alone when the attackers climbed through a window they had smashed at the back of the house.

"His little kitchen is in the corner of his home, and after getting inside, they made their way down the hall.

"Joe was looking at a book at the time when they attacked.

"I don't know how he'd be reading it because his sight is bad - and the lighting in the kitchen isn't great.

"They started shouting, 'We want the money, we want the money, we'll kill you, we'll kill you'.

"They then pegged him to the floor.

Gardai search the road outside Joseph Waters' home
Gardai search the road outside Joseph Waters' home

"Two of them went into another room, searching and pulling the place apart.

"The other lad held Joe in the kitchen, took out a knife, and held it to his throat," said Mr Gorman.

"Each of them also had sticks about an inch-and-a-half thick, and three foot long.

"They belted him with their weapons, and pulled him around the yard to try and loosen him up.

"Thankfully, Joe wasn't cut when they put the knife to his throat.

"He has a mark on the side of his head, but he had a scan in hospital, and thanks be to God is ok.

"They think his shoulder was dislocated, and he may have broken a bone.

"I don't think they got anything in the end."

When the attackers fled, Mr Waters stayed in the house for about half an hour because he was afraid he'd be attacked again if the men were still outside.

"He eventually rummaged his way to my son's house across the road," said Mr Gorman. "His eyesight is very bad, and usually my son has a light on, but he didn't have it on at the time.

"Joe was afraid he'd trip over children's toys because his eyesight is so poor.

"He can't remember how long the ordeal lasted."

Speaking to Independent.ie, Mr Gorman described his elderly neighbour as a "decent and helpful man".

"He's been a lifelong friend and is an absolute gentleman. He never hurt anyone.

"It's not going to be easy for him to get over this, living on his own in his little house.

"But he's determined to get on with his life. He's a strong-willed person.

"His parents built the house when he was a youngster and he's been living there ever since.

"He's sociable and visits me every Tuesday night. I'd always make sure he got home ok because of his sight issues.

"He's a man of simple tastes."

His three attackers are described as 5ft 6in in height, in their 20s, and with local accents.

Gardaí are appealing for witnesses who may have been in the area or travelling on the Tullamore to Clara road, between 7.30pm and 8.30pm, and noticed anything suspicious.

Irish Independent

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