Athlone victims’ families thank gardaí and members of public

‘The level of public empathy and practical assistance has been immense’

The scene outside Longford courthouse yesterday morning. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The scene outside Longford courthouse yesterday morning. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Wed, Oct 2, 2013, 12:39

The families of the two young girls brutally sexually assaulted in Co Westmeath at the weekend have thanked gardaí and the people of Athlone for their support.

The statement was issued this morning by the families through the Athlone-based Westmeath Independent.

The families said: “We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation of An Garda Síochána for their support and tireless efforts at this difficult time. Their compassion and professionalism has been a source of great comfort for us and, more importantly for our precious little daughters.

“The other professional care providers have also helped us to begin to find our way through this challenging period. Finally, we would also like to recognise the kindness and practical support that we have received from the people of Athlone. The level of public empathy and practical assistance has been immense and again it has been a source of comfort to us all at this most difficult time.”

The girls, aged six and nine, had been attending a birthday party at a housing estate on the edge of the town when they went missing.

After the assaults the girls climbed out a window and ran back to the party to raise the alarm. Adults at the party had already become concerned at their unexplained disappearance. The children were able to identify the house and one man was detained before gardaí arrived.

A 30-year-old man was later charged with the rape of the girls and was remanded in custody when he appeared before Longford District Court yesterday.