A MUM today told how her daughter (11) was repeatedly assaulted while she bravely attempted to save her toddler brother from a car hijacker.
The little girl was today recovering after the well-known Limerick criminal continuously jabbed her with a screwdriver at Woodview shopping centre while stealing her mother's car.
After threatening and forcing the girl and her 10-year-old brother from the Opel Zafira, he sped off with the two-year-old boy.
The maniac later abandoned the toddler on the side of a country road as armed gardai searched for him.
The car was only brought to a halt when SWAT gardai from the Armed Support Unit opened fire.
The mother-of-six had stopped briefly at a Centra shop on the schoolrun when the carjacking took place. The "hardest part" was that her youngest daughter blamed herself for her brother being kidnapped, the mum said.
"Once I had my children, I didn't care about the car. They mean the world to me."
The little girl attempted to pull her brother from the back seat of the car while the assailant attacked and threatened her to get out of the car.
"She did her best for her brother -- she tried to save him, but he [the assailant] kept roaring and jabbing her," the mother recalled.
"She [her daughter] hurt her knee and got a screwdriver in her back as she was trying to get him out. When she tried to get the child out of the back, he started poking her with a screwdriver," she said.
"He started screaming at them saying he would do something bad if they didn't get out," she told the Herald.
"That is the hardest part, she is blaming herself. She was saying it was all her fault but he wouldn't let her take him out."
Displaying the wounds she received from her assailant, the 11-year-old girl tearfully recalled: "He said he would do bad things to me. I was frightened."
Her mother said the three children are today attempting to recover from the frightening ordeal.
"Thanks be to God, I have them all -- that is all I care about," she said.
The terrifying ordeal began at 9.20am when her daughter raced into the shop screaming at her mother.
"The lady was just handing me out the cigarettes and the next thing I knew my little girl started screaming: 'Mommy, mommy, quick, quick, quick'."
"I went out the two front main doors and when I did I saw the car driving off."
"I was trying to make my way to the car and when I did, it skidded off. I was roaring, screaming for anyone for help, could anyone to go after the car -- my child was in the back. I was thinking everything a mother would think. I didn't know what he was going to do. Would he beat the child up, would he crash and the child would go out through the front window -- there was so many things running through my head."
With assistance from a relative she located her youngest son standing on the side of the road less than two miles from where the ordeal began.
The kidnapper may be brought to court later today.