Three innocent brothers were the victims of a suspected acid attack after being targeted by a thug who was furious over the break-up of a relationship up with a woman.
The suspect forced his way into their home in Cork and launched the sickening attack after coming to believe one of the brothers had been spending time with his former partner.
Two of the brothers - Francis and John Costello - were yesterday being treated at the South Infirmary Hospital after they had a corrosive substance thrown in their faces and eyes at the property on the Connolly Road, in Ballyphehane.
There are now fears that one of the siblings may suffer permanent damage to his vision.
The brothers' sibling Roy, who was also spattered with the substance, was treated at the scene and returned home yesterday with the men's devastated father Paddy after a Garda cordon was lifted.
Approached by the Sunday World and asked whether his sons would recover, a shocked Paddy responded: "Please God!"
A senior source said none of the injured men were known to Gardaí and investigators are now probing the possibility the attack was carried out as a result of an irrational personal grudge against one of the brothers.
A man in his 30s, an Irish national from the northside of Cork, was arrested in the aftermath of the attack.
He was described by the same senior source as a 'suspect'.
It's understood the suspect had been previously involved with a woman and became upset following the break-down of the relationship and launched the sickening attack.
It was confirmed the substance was thrown on the brothers after a man attempted to force his way into their home shortly after 8pm on Friday evening.
He was being quizzed at the Bridewell Garda Station in Cork city yesterday.
The source said Gardaí had yet to confirm the exact nature of the substance thrown on the brothers and were awaiting tests before it could be confirmed as acid.
"It could be petrol or diesel or something taken from a battery but we won't be able to say that until the tests come back," he said.
Neighbours told yesterday how in the aftermath of the attack Francis and John made it out to the front garden of their home, where their harrowing screams for help raised the alarm.
The home on Connolly, Road Cork, scene of acid attack
"It happened at about half-past eight. I heard the screaming and I went over and all three of them were in the front garden.
"They said they'd had some chemical thrown on their faces they didn't know what it was themselves.
"They were blind, and they couldn't see and you could see the damage on their features. At least one of them is going to need plastic surgery on his face now.
"But they're both bad … they were transferred to the South Infirmary this morning. From what I could see they were in real distress.
"Then the fire personnel arrived but they couldn't even put something on them in case it reacted with whatever was thrown on them.
"After the fire brigade arrived, they told us all to get into our houses straight away in case they were dealing with some kind of chemical attack.
"The family had made the call and the ambulance was there ASAP. To be honest, we're all still in shock. These are quiet neighbours with adult kids … this was a personal attack.
"It's just so shocking.
"There's four brothers there and they'd all be decent men. The dad was lucky he wasn't there.
"He came back after it had all been sealed off and they kept him a bit down the road because the whole area had been sealed off.
"I don't know what else I can say, because it's just so disgusting what was done."
A neighbour living across the road from the Costello home said he returned home from work in the aftermath of the attack and was utterly horrified when he heard what had been done to the three men.
"I was late last night and I pulled up and everything was happening," he said.
"The father and the sons inside are quiet people. I've always known them as a sound family … very, very sound.
"I worked with John years ago … he was a labourer and I was doing a bit of labouring and John was just a regular Joe.
"I don't know Francis very well … I'd only know him through John.
"I stayed over here because we were told initially that it was a chemical attack.
"We've a newborn baby, so I was worried about the baby and I asked the guard whether it was in the air.
"Because you'd be worried for the baby.
"And he said no. It looked like it was an acid attack or maybe petrol. They couldn't be sure at that stage. So, we stayed here.
"It was all cordoned off anyway so you couldn't walk up or down."
Francis, John and Roy were treated at the scene in a decontamination unit operated by Cork City Fire Service before being transferred to hospital.
Investigating gardaí yesterday appealed to people who were in the Connolly Road area between 7pm and 9pm - particularly those with phone or dashcam footage - to contact them at Togher Garda Station on 021-4947120.
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