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knife point Criminal elements in Cork now 'helping' to track down aggravated burglary culprit

Gardaí following a definite line of inquiry into Cork aggravated burglary

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Mary O'Halloran came upon the scene when she went to visit her brother Gerry

Mary O'Halloran came upon the scene when she went to visit her brother Gerry

Mary O'Halloran came upon the scene when she went to visit her brother Gerry

Gardaí are following a definite line of inquiry into an aggravated burglary in which the life savings of an elderly Cork brother and sister were stolen at knife-point.

Such is the abhorrence of the attack that Garda sources said even local criminal elements are now providing assistance in tracking down the culprit.

The revelation came as Mary O'Halloran (84) issued a public appeal for anyone with information on the aggravated burglary in Cork on February 13 to help Gardaí bring the culprit to justice.

The pensioner said she is now "praying hard" that the intruder who held herself and her brother, Gerry (79), at knife-point before stealing €1,800 from them is caught before he hurts any other elderly person.

The O'Halloran family admitted that Gerry is now too scared to return to his Boyce's Street home - and Cork City Council and elderly rights charities are now working with the family to secure alternative accommodation for him.

Gerry has spent nine days in hospital and is currently being treated at the St Mary's healthcare complex.

Mary pleaded with people to help Gardaí.

"He (burglar) should be found and he should be arrested."

"It is our lives," Mary said as she admitted she didn't want any other elderly person to go through their ordeal.

"It is hurting me. I don't want to think about it anymore," she told VirginMedia.

"(Gerry) is very frightened - it is important to me that he gets a (new) house. I'd be delighted for him."

Mary admitted she feared she was going to be stabbed by the intruder who kept demanding cash from her and her brother Gerry (79) after he broke into their property on Cork's northside early on a Sunday morning.

Her brother was left so frightened he now doesn't want to return to his Boyce's Street home in Cork.

Kind-hearted Mary - who looks after her brother as well as her elderly sister - said she never thought the elderly could be subjected to such cruel treatment in Ireland.

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The burglar made off with a large portion of Mary and Gerry's life savings - and then broke the phone in Gerry's home and smashed lights before fleeing on foot.

The alarm was raised by a home help and neighbours.

"We were both terrified - I was shocked but it was my brother I was worried about," Mary said.

"He (the burglar) had the knife held up to our throats and kept saying he wanted the money, he wanted the money off us.

"What could we do? We couldn't do anything else (except hand over their savings) because I thought he was going to stab us both. It was very scary."

The burglar took an estimated €800 from Gerry and some €1,000 from Mary - the bulk of their life savings.

"We got a terrible fright from it."

Mary admitted that both Gerry and herself feared for their lives at one point.

"I'm not too bad today - we are both just trying to get over it. We weren't hurt but we both left very shaken. They have kept Gerry in (hospital) but I went home.

"He had a long knife held up to us - it had a long blade. He held it up to my throat and to Gerry's throat. We both got a terrible fright."

Mary said that her brother had previously wanted to relocate out of the area - and was now too scared to return to his home.

She suffered a slight cut to her hand during the incident.

"He (the burglar) shoved me into the house and wouldn't let me go. He kept shouting that he wanted money."

The pensioner said she was "overwhelmed" by the reaction of the Cork and Irish public to their ordeal with a GoFundMe page raising over €23,000 in less than 24 hours for the siblings.

The appeal fund was suspended after the donated sum had soared over €30,000 for the elderly brother and sister.

While Gerry and Mary did not suffer serious injuries in the robbery, they were taken to the Mercy University Hospital (MUH) for precautionary checks.

Mary said her brother was "still shaking" over what he had endured.

He was held at knife point for around 20 minutes or more before Mary called to his home on Sunday morning and was then forced inside by the burglar.

Mary O'Halloran came upon the scene when she went to visit her brother.

Paramedics Keith Harrington and Sean Healy were shocked by what the elderly couple had endured.

In a bid to help the siblings, they decided to set up a GoFundMe appeal with the aim of raising €2,000.

It ultimately raised 15 times that amount.

A major Garda manhunt is now underway for the thief as Gardaí believe they have now identified a key person of interest.

The man has a long list of previous convictions including targeting the elderly.

Gardaí said they believe CCTV security camera footage from premises in the area will now prove crucial.

Detectives have obtained key forensic evidence as well.

They are appealing for information and are keen to speak with anyone who was in the vicinity of Boyce’s Street or neighbouring streets between 6:30am and 9am on Sunday who may have witnessed anything to come forward.

They are also appealing to road users with dash-cam footage from the Gurranabraher area between those times, to make it available to them.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Gurranabraher Garda Station on (021) 4946200, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.

Gardaí said the burglar spoke with a Cork accent and is believed to be aged in his 20s or 30s.

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