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'heartless' Elderly man attacked by 'cowardly' burglars in Sligo is now on life support

It’s understood Tom suffered a broken eye socket and a serious head injury in the attack and before leaving the property, one of the raiders attempted to incapacitate the man by tying his shoelaces together.

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Sligo Garda Station

Sligo Garda Station

Sligo Garda Station

Gardaí have issued an urgent appeal for information as a Sligo pensioner who was attacked in his own home last month has been placed on life support.

Thomas (Tom) Niland, a 73-year-old bachelor, was left with serious head and upper body injuries after he was attacked in his home in Skreen, Co Sligo, on January 18.

Tom was attacked by three masked men who forced their way into his home and stole a small sum of money. It’s understood Tom suffered a broken eye socket and a serious head injury in the attack and before leaving the property, one of the raiders attempted to incapacitate the man by tying his shoelaces together.

“Tom answered a knock to his front door and was immediately and viciously assaulted and a small sum of money was stolen. The culprits left Tom with serious head and upper body injuries,” Superintendent Mandy Gaynor said today.

“Tom, despite these serious injuries, managed to crawl from his home and alert passing motorists. Gardaí were then alerted by his neighbours.

“Tom was transferred to Sligo University Hospital, where I am sad to say, his condition has deteriorated significantly. Tom is now in a critical condition and on life support.”

It is believed that the attackers arrived in a car, which reversed into the driveway of Tom’s house. It is not known at this time if anyone remained in the car during the course of the attack, gardaí said.

A garda family liaison officer was appointed to Tom’s family immediately after the incident and An Garda Síochána continues to support his family.

A large-scale criminal investigation was launched after the attack and a senior investigating officer has been appointed along with a team of experienced detectives and gardai.

A number of checkpoints in the immediate aftermath of the aggravated burglary and house to house enquiries in the area yielded some information, gardaí have said.

“An Garda Síochána have recovered hours of CCTV footage, taken a number of statements and developed a number of lines of inquiry to date including forensic analysis of the scene by scenes of crime officers supported by the Garda National Technical Bureau,” Supt Gaynor said.

“An Garda Síochána continues and will continue investigating all the circumstances relating to this aggravated burglary during which Tom was assaulted. No stone will be left unturned.”

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Gardaí are appealing for any person with any information on this “vicious and cowardly” aggravated burglary and assault on Tom to contact them immediately.

Gardaí are appealing to every person who was driving along the N59 (Sligo/Ballina Road), in the Skreen area, on Tuesday, January 18, between 4pm – 8pm, who may have dashcam or any other video footage to contact investigating gardaí.

Gardaí are appealing for anyone who noticed any unusual activity by people or vehicles in the wider N59 Skreen area to contact gardaí, whether they think it is related to this investigation or not.

"There are people out there who know who was involved in this aggravated burglary and serious assault on an elderly man in his home,” Supt Gaynor said.

"Thomas Niland and his family deserve to have these criminals who carried out this heartless act brought to Justice.

“If you have any information on this callous and cowardly crime please contact Sligo Garda Station on 071 915 7000, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any garda station.”

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