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'Horrendous crime' Gardaí investigating Tom Niland burglary and assault recover 'significant evidence'

Mr Niland remains in a critical condition and on life support at Sligo University Hospital

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Tom Niland

Tom Niland

Tom Niland

Superintendent Mandy Gaynor at Sligo Garda Station has said today that “significant evidence” has been recovered in relation to the aggravated burglary and assault on Tom Niland.

She said Gardaí are carrying out a number of searches today along the N59, between Doonflynn, Dromore West and along the route leading up as far as Lough Easkey.

Mr Niland remains in a critical condition and on life support at Sligo University Hospital. A Garda family liaison officer continues to support his family at this time.

Three masked men forced their way into Mr Niland’s home at Doonflynn on the N59, Skreen, at approximately 7pm on January 18 and viciously assaulted him.

Mr Niland was left with serious head and upper body injuries.

Superintendent Gaynor said the searches today are to identify and recover any other material of evidential value to this investigation.

“Significant evidence connected with this crime has already been recovered along this route. The search is being coordinated from the Incident Room in Sligo. I am utilising every resource at my disposal in this investigation,” she said.

“Today’s searches involve the Sligo Divisional Search team, the Garda Mounted Unit, Garda Dog Unit, Garda Water Unit, Garda Air Support, local Civil Defence and community volunteers.”

“I am overwhelmed with the significant level of community support and information being received by the investigation team at Sligo Garda Station. I am satisfied that progress continues to be made with the investigation to date.”

“We are following specific lines of enquiry, taken numerous statements, secured hours of CCTV footage and continue to liaise with Forensic Science Ireland (FSI).”

Superintendent Gaynor said she is “determined” that the men who carried out this crime will be brought to justice.

“My investigation team are working tirelessly to ensure this happens. I am confident there are still people out there who know who was involved in this aggravated burglary and serious assault on an elderly man in his home,” she said.

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She urged people who may have information on this “callous and cowardly” crime to come forward.

“I am asking you to do the right thing and come forward. Any information that you may have no matter how small or insignificant you think it maybe could be significant to the investigation team. Any information received will be treated with the strictest confidence,” she said.

“I am very aware that this horrendous crime on an elderly man has ignited huge debate, generated conversations and caused fear in the local community here in Skreen and indeed across the country.”

Superintendent Gaynor also warned people not to engage with “fake news” about this crime.

“I would strongly appeal to everyone, please do not engage in speculation about this crime. Do not be drawn into the spread of fake news, particularly on social media platforms. Inaccurate and ill-informed speculation is not helpful to the investigation and can generate unease and fear,” she said.

“If you believe you have information that is of assistance to the investigation team, please provide that information directly to the investigation team in Sligo at 071 9157000.”

She said gardaí across the country are very aware that people particularly in our older communities, those living alone or living in isolated areas are scared and worried.

“I want to say – your home is your castle, your safe place. I want to reassure any elderly person listening that the callous burglary and level of violence in this incident is very rare. The use of such vicious violence is not a common or regular occurrence,” she said.

“An Garda Síochána are here to help and support you. If you are concerned about any activity in or around your home, please contact your local Garda station or 999, or contact a neighbour or friend to support you.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Sligo Garda Station on 071 915 7000, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda station

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