Burglary victim begged gang not to harm wife (79)

Ralph Riegel, Conor Kane and Ken Foy

A VICIOUS gang who broke into a pensioner couple's home escaped with €3,000.

The Herald has also learned that the elderly man pleaded with the gang to leave his sleeping wife unharmed.

The revelation came as it emerged the terrifying burglary of Nicholas 'Nicksy' Dunphy (79) and his wife, Kathleen (79), at their home at Corballymor, Saleen, Co Waterford, was the second theft the frail couple have endured over recent years.

Three masked raiders armed with a hatchet and a hammer stole the cash from the terrified couple -- and used a nearby beach as their escape route.

The raiders broke into the couple's home -- within sight of Saleen Strand between Tramore and Dunmore East -- after Mr Dunphy opened their door at 9.30pm on Monday night believing it was a neighbour.

His wife was asleep in bed -- and Mr Dunphy, a former Waterford County Council worker, desperately pleaded with the raiders not to upset or harm her.

After ransacking the bungalow and obtaining a small quantity of cash, the raiders bound and gagged the couple before fleeing.

Mrs Dunphy eventually managed to escape and struggled up to a neighbour's house to raise the alarm.

Today, the elderly couple were staying with their daughter, Alice, in Ballymacaw and were being comforted by another daughter, Bernie. Both stressed their parents were "too upset" to talk about their ordeal.

"We are all in shock," explained Bernie who works in local pub White's.

While the elderly couple escaped uninjured, family and friends expressed horror at their ordeal.

Neighbour Anthony Caulfield said: "It is terrible that you cannot feel safe in your own home. Corbally is a quiet area but I suppose this is all to do with the recession," he said.

Martin Mahoney said things have deteriorated in rural Ireland and now ordinary people are afraid to even answer calls to their door at night.

"There's a lot out there just intent on going robbing," he said.

Family friend Cllr Pat Fitzgerald said the entire community was sickened by the burglary. "They're lovely, honest, decent people and haven't an enemy in the world. They are really good neighbours and their neighbours are very good to them," he said.

Gardai described the robbery as "a cowardly attack on a vulnerable couple".

The raiders spoke with Waterford accents and are believed to have had detailed local knowledge.

Gardai have appealed for anyone who may have spotted suspicious behaviour in the Saleen, Ballymacaw or Corbally areas of Waterford last Monday to contact them at (051) 305300.