A LIMERICK farmer was left in a pool of blood after he was viciously assaulted by a trespasser, in the latest shocking incident of rural crime in the county.
Tom O’Donnell, aged 60, was moving his cows across a public road on the outskirts of Kilmallock when he was punched and knocked unconscious.
He is now contemplating having an iron bar beside his bed and in the boot of the car for future protection.
He spoke to the Limerick Leader on behalf of other farmers who have been affected by crime and are living in fear. “Crime is rampant. The minority are intimidating the majority. Every time a farmer walks out into the yard we are looking over our shoulders. These people are going on our land with their lurchers and massive torches shining in every direction to lamp hares, rabbits, foxes and even cats. We give a shout and they only laugh at us,” said Tom.
At 7.30pm on Tuesday, October 22, Tom was feeding silage to a bull in a shed.
“I saw a light in the field, at first I thought it was lightning. Then I thought it might be fireworks but fireworks wouldn’t come up this far.
“There was a time when I would have sprinted out but I am conscious of my age and of getting a heart attack. I jogged over. I saw a figure in the moonlight and heard a dog. He was about 90 feet away.
“I shouted, ‘You piece of s**t, keep running you rotten f****r’. He was moving lively. I went back as I had to move the cows from one field to another across the public road,” said Tom.
The single dairy farmer drove his car down the road to move his cows for the night.
“He was standing at the gate with his dog. I had a headlamp on. I said to him, ‘You were on my land’. He said, ‘Prove it’. I said, ‘I saw you in my field you piece of s**t’. He said, ‘Prove it’. Everything was ‘Prove it’.
“We were in the middle of the road. He came in closer to me. He pushed a big torch into my face and I brushed it away twice with the back of my hand. I wasn’t aggressive, I didn’t slap it to the ground. I don’t know why I didn’t do that. I should have,” said Tom.
He remembers the assailant had the torch and lead for the dog in his left hand, leaving his right hand free.
“We were exchanging ‘compliments’ and the next thing I woke up on the ground in the middle of the road in a pool of blood. I thought what am I doing here? How did I get on the ground?
“It happened so fast I can’t remember the punch. I don’t know how many seconds I was unconscious for. I saw him jogging about 20 feet away. He left me on the road. If a car came I was a goner,” said Tom.
As it was pitch black he didn’t see what the trespasser was wearing but describes him as “a short, fit looking young man with short brown / blonde hair”.
“I got up in a rush in case a car would come. I went in front of my car to protect myself from traffic. I steadied myself. I was pumping blood from my nose,” said Tom.
Despite the shock he still moved his cows across the road before sitting into his car. He rang his good friend Jimmy who contacted gardai and other friends and neighbours, one of whom is a nurse. They all arrived within minutes.
When they came, Tom said he could barely talk. “I was in bits. I had been humiliated by a small guy. My pride was hurt. I was in shock,” he said.
Tom was taken to Shannondoc before arriving at UHL at 11pm. He was there until 7am and was back again that afternoon for an x-ray. His nose was broken but the cheekbone was not fractured. He also has a black eye and a gash on his nose. Following the frightening assault, he says he is doing OK.
“I would be robust. I read about other victims of crime or assaults who can’t sleep with the fear but I can sleep. I’m contemplating having an iron bar beside my bed and in the boot of the car for future protection. This is going to bug me for the rest of my life. Every time I come out into my yard day or night - and especially at night as l live beside the town - I am going to be looking over my shoulder. If I hear a noise at night I am going to cock my ear even though it could just be a cat,” said Tom.
Guards from Bruff were at the scene in minutes and have launched an investigation. Bruff Superintendent John Ryan made personal contact with Tom. The lack of resources in the Bruff garda district is well known. But the only way to tackle illegal trespassers on farms is more gardai on foot patrol in towns and villages; get to know people and those who are being intimidated, and not be in squad cars the whole time, Tom says.