LIMERICK’s most senior garda is reassuring the victims of three aggravated burglaries over the past fortnight, that the gardai “won’t be found wanting” and will be doing “everything in our power to bring those responsible before the courts”.
To date, no arrests have been made in relation to the three “despicable” crimes – one of which saw three small children held at gunpoint by a gang of armed men.
“No words of mine can express fully the trauma and the hurt that those people have endured in each of those three events,” said Chief Superintendent David Sheahan.
“I offer my sympathies to the families but I can reassure them that we won’t be found wanting in terms of the resources we will put in to solve these three crimes.”
At this stage in the investigations, Chief Supt Sheahan says there does not seem to be any link between the three aggravated burglaries – which took place in Grange, Ballycummin and Clarina - which leads him to believe there are three different groups involved.
In the latest attack, a man was hit over the head with a blunt implement by a gang who entered his home at Beaskabeg, Clarina, Patrickswell, at around 10pm on Saturday night after the man answered his front door.
The two-man gang wore masks and spoke with Irish accents. “They pushed him back into his bedroom. They were fairly vocal. He was hit over the head with an item which he suspects was a firearm,” Chief Supt Sheahan explained.
The victim, who is in his 40s, lives with his son but was alone in the house at the time. He raised the alarm by calling neighbours. When the gardai arrived at the scene, the victim was bleeding from the head. The gang made off with the victim’s mobile phone.
Gardaí believe the gang’s getaway car may have been a Volkswagen Passat.
“These incidences cause serious fear in communities,” said Chief Supt Sheahan who moved to reassure the public that the latest serious incidents do not reflect the overall crime figures for this year.
“For the first quarter of the year – from January up until the end of March - in the Limerick division, burglaries for the first quarter are showing a decrease of 12%,” he pointed out.
On April 9, ESB worker Danny O’Connell was tied up in his home in Ballingoola, Grange, by a four man gang who were armed with handguns.
Mr O’Connell, 46, was forced onto the floor and threatened at gunpoint.
The masked gang locked Mr O’Connell, his wife Miriam and their four-year old son and daughters, aged six and nine into a bathroom before fleeing the scene.
The men were looking for a man called “John”. Gardaí believe the O’Connells were entirely innocent victims of the gang which intending to target another specific address in Limerick.
On April 3, Don Reddan, 74, whose rugby star son Eoin plays for Ireland and Leinster, was the victim of a similar crime at his home in Ballycummin.The pensioner answered his front door at around 10.30pm and was confronted by a masked man who was armed with a weapon similar to a pick axe.
Mr Reddan was tied up and assaulted but not seriously injured. “To see people terrified like that in their own homes I think is a disgrace,” commented Cllr Leo Walsh who represents the Patrickswell area.
“Anyone with information should pass it to the gardai because they need help in solving these despicable crimes. There is too much of it happening – and in front of small children as well.”