A 68-year old man cycled for eight hours through the night to check into a nursing home after being terrorised by robbers at his remote home.
Ennis Circuit Court heard yesterday that bachelor Michael McMahon set off from his home in Cree, Co Clare, at 1am with his life's belongings in a few bags on his bike.
He cycled for 30 miles to St Joseph's nursing home in Ennis where he checked himself in at 9am.
Mr McMahon remains in nursing home care today after fleeing his home following two nights of being put in "absolute fear".
The incident happened almost two years ago, and the robbers made threats on the second occasion that they were going to return and rob him again, this time of €50,000.
Det Gda Donal Corkery said that on the second occasion, the robbers put the rung of a gate, pretending it was a gun, through a broken window at Mr McMahon's home and threatened to shoot him.
Det Corkery said Mr McMahon was living alone without any electricity or running water.
He said he had cash in his home from an inheritance he received from America.
In court yesterday, three west Clare men pleaded guilty to robbery. Joseph Lernihan (21), of Finnanon Park, Mullagh, pleaded guilty to robbing Mr McMahon on February 21 and 25, 2012 with Shane Donnellan (20), of Clohanbeg, Cree, Kilrush, and Noel Garry (20), of Tullycrine, Kilrush, pleading guilty to robbing Mr McMahon on February 25, 2012.
Det Corkery said that over the two nights around €7,000 was stolen from Mr McMahon.
The officer said that at 10pm on February 21, Mr McMahon heard banging outside his home and could see three torches in the darkness outside.
The detective said three people wearing hoodies demanded €500 from outside the house and Mr McMahon was frightened and told them he would give them the €500.
State counsel Stephen Coughlan BL said the robbers "threatened to come in and search if he didn't give them more".
Mr McMahon handed them three jars containing €4,000.
The following day, he went to the AIB in Kilrush to withdraw €3,000 and replaced the windows with blocks.
On February 25, robbers returned and Det Corkery said that Mr McMahon saw blocks were being removed from one of his broken windows and that a pipe was being pointed into the house. He retrieved the remainder of the money and gave it to the robbers.
Mr Coughlan said: "They demanded and got Mr McMahon's bank books and told him to go to the bank the following Monday and withdraw €50,000 and they would be back for it."
Det Corkery said: "Mr McMahon told the persons there that he wouldn't be able to remain at his home because of their action, and at 1am he gathered up his belongings and cycled to St Joseph's nursing home."
He said that on arriving at St Joseph's, Mr McMahon also made a complaint to gardai.
Det Corkery said: "Mr McMahon is in good health, but he is fearful and has informed us that he will never return home again."
Det Corkery said Lernihan and Donnellan have no previous convictions. Mr Garry has five previous convictions including two for burglary.
The detective said that the prime mover in the crime is not before the courts as there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him because he did not make admissions to gardai.
In a statement to gardai, Donnellan said: "I'm so sorry about what I put that man through and I will pay back the money."
Probation reports are not yet ready in the case and Judge Carroll Moran adjourned sentencing to Ennis Circuit Couurt to March 3.