'constant fear' | 

Locals where pensioner Tom Niland was attacked fearful after man (51) knocked out in attack

Latest victim lives alone and has health problems

Ken FoyIndependent.ie

A 51-year-old man was attacked in his rural home less than 2km from where pensioner Tom Niland suffered life-changing injuries in a suspected aggravated burglary nearly a year ago.

Mr Niland (74) has been on life support in Sligo University Hospital since the incident last January that shocked the country.

Speaking to the Irish Independentyesterday, his cousin, Michael Walsh, who is his closest living relative, said the community of Skreen, Co Sligo, where both assaults happened, were “living in constant fear in their homes”.

Mr Walsh said he was aware of Monday’s incident in which a man is believed to have been beaten over the head with what gardaí described as a “heavy implement”.

Asked whether the attack had led to an increase in fear in the area, he said: “It has not led to a particular rise in anxiety because it could not get worse here after what happened to Tom – people are scared.

“Everyone feels very vulnerable, especially with the longer nights. Everyone is on a heightened state of alert and people are scared to answer their doors around here. There is a general atmosphere of fear.”

An investigation into the latest attack is being carried out by Sligo gardaí, who are appealing for witnesses. The incident happened in the townland of Kilrusheighter.

The victim, who lives on his own and suffers from health difficulties, was knocked unconscious in the attack.

othing was stolen, and when the man regained consciousness he went to a neighbour for help and gardaí were contacted. The man needed treatment for his head injuries but was not hospitalised.

A source said detectives have ruled out the involvement of organised burglary gangs who have terrorised the area.

“The fact that nothing was stolen from his home indicates this was not the work of one of the burglary gangs who also normally target a few houses in a locality when they hit a particular location,” the source said.

“The injured party is confused about exactly what happened or the time it happened on Monday as he got a severe single belt on the head which left him knocked out.”

While there have been no arrests in relation to the attack, three Co Mayo men are currently before the courts charged with assault causing serious harm and the false imprisonment of Mr Niland, as well as aggravated burglary with a knife at his home.

Mr Walsh said there had been no improvement in his condition and described him as being “skeletal”.

“He is very depressed, he used to smile sometimes but not any more,” he said.

“He is beginning to realise the situation he is in and that he will never move again. He realises that he can’t do anything.”

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