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Man (72) in 'serious condition' after aggravated burglary in Co Kildare

Man was assaulted after he disturbed burglary in his shed, before the suspects fled the scene on foot
Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown

Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown

Ken Foy, Denise Calnan and Eavan Murray

A 72-year-old man is in a serious condition in hospital after he was the victim of an aggravated burglary at his home.

Gardaí in Leixlip are now investigating the incident which took place at a residential property in Adrass Lower, Celbridge, Co. Kildare on the night of Tuesday, February 8.

A number of men gained entry into a lock-up shed on the property at approximately 9.30pm, and were attempting to remove property from the shed when the owner of the shed disturbed them.

The man was assaulted before the suspects fled the scene on foot. One of the suspects left the scene on a scrambler bike, which was stolen from the property.

The alarm was raised and the man was rushed to Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown where his condition is described as serious but stable.

The victim in this case was badly assaulted and suffered a number of injuries including head injuries.

In a follow up search, a teenager was arrested and was taken to Leixlip Garda station where he is currently detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984.

Gardaí are now appealing to any person who may have information in relation to this incident to come forward.

They believe that a gang based in the Ballyfermot area of Dublin are responsible for an aggravated burglary.

So far there has been one arrest in the case, a juvenile from Ballyfermot but gardai are hunting a number of other culprits for the violent incident.

Gardai are today continuing to search for other gang members who fled the scene on foot.

There has been a marked increase in burglaries in most garda divisions in Leinster over the past two months with a number of separate gangs involved in the spike in this type of crime.

Gardaí are appealing for:

  • Any person who may have noticed any unusual activity in the Adrass Lower area last night is asked to make contact with investigating Gardaí.
  • Any road users who were travelling in Adrass Lower between 9p.m. and 10p.m. and may have camera footage (including dash-cam) are asked to make this footage available to Gardaí.
  • Anyone with any information is asked to contact Leixlip Garda Station on 01 666 7800, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.

The assault comes just weeks after Thomas ‘Tom’ Niland (73) suffered horrific head injuries during an aggravated burglary at his home in Skreen, Co Sligo on January 18. The well-liked man is now in a coma.

Gardai investigating the brutal attack on the bachelor farmer fear he may have been targeted after withdrawing money from his credit union account.

It is understood gardaí have traced Mr Niland’s movements in the days before the horrific assault and are probing whether he had been under surveillance after withdrawing money from the credit union in Tubbercurry.

Thomas Niland

Thomas Niland

It is understood Mr Niland was robbed of €700 during the attack by three balaclava-clad raiders, which has left him fighting for his life in hospital.

Sources said gardaí had traced Mr Niland’s movements from the credit union in Tubbercurry in the days before the attack.

It is understood he then visited the nearby Homeland agricultural supply store in Achonry before going to the local shop close to his home.

At 4pm on the day of the attack, he visited a Centra shop in nearby Dromore West.

Gardaí are combing through hundreds of hours of CCTV footage from across west Sligo in about to crack the case.

Investigators believe the criminals who targeted the elderly retired farmer were familiar with the local area.

They also believe the gang used a network of isolated rural roads traversing the Ox Mountains during their escape.

Investigators are confident the raiders travelled together at least as far as Tubbercurry.

Days following the incident, a man walking beside Easkey Lough on a mountain road that links Dromore West and Tubbercurry found Mr Niland’s wallet.

Detectives believe the wallet was thrown from the raiders’ vehicle as they fled.

Gardaí carry out searches near the home of Thomas Niland in Skreen, Co Sligo.

Gardaí carry out searches near the home of Thomas Niland in Skreen, Co Sligo.

The garda diving unit spent two days combing the lake.

During the vicious attack, in a bid to further incapacitate Mr Niland, one of his attackers tied his shoelaces together.

After the gang escaped, the bachelor managed to crawl to the roadway outside his house and was found by a passing bus driver and security guard.

The men brought Mr Niland to his neighbour’s house, the Calpin family, who have known Mr Niland for decades.

However, his injuries were so severe the Calpins did not recognise him initially.

James McLaughlin, a lifelong friend of Mr Niland, said the community was “devastated” by the attack.

“Last Sunday, three weeks ago, there was a vigil in the Skreen community centre for that poor girl Ashling Murphy, and who walked in in front of me? Only Tom.

“It’s horrendous to think the next vigil we had was for him.

“He was a lovely, kind, good-natured man.

“He worked on the one farm for 50 years, and he was so loyal and never missed a day.

“I don’t know how anyone could do this to him.

“If only they could have taken him in and tied him to a chair but to beat the life out of him is just unbelievable.

“It’s one of the most callous attacks here in the north-west in many years. He was the last man you would describe as vulnerable. He would have been well able to handle himself.

“But he was a very quiet man who just kept himself to himself and never got involved in any kind of trouble.

“If they bring these guys to justice, they can’t just get a slap on the wrist.

“I have known Tom for 55 years, and I don’t think I have ever heard a single person say a bad word about him.”

Local parish priest Fr Michael Gilroy urged those responsible for the attack to hand themselves in. “Everybody is just sick to the pit of their stomachs at what has happened to poor Tom,” he said.

“Tom is a consummate gentleman. He is such a kind, gentle and well-respected person here in our local community and a great neighbour and friend.

“Whoever did this needs to do the right thing and give themselves up to the gardaí and bring some justice to his situation.

“When you drive by his lovely house, you almost get a pain in your stomach thinking of what he suffered behind that door. It’s hard to get your head around all of it, to be honest.

“There have been a lot of burglaries around west Sligo in recent months. People need to feel safe in their own homes.”

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