Gang that hospitalised farmer also beat his ‘soulmate’ dog

Gardaí appeal for information about burglars with ‘Munster accents’ in Offaly incident

A farmer is recovering in hospital after a “vicious attack, and a vicious attack on the dog as well”. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien.

A farmer is recovering in hospital after a “vicious attack, and a vicious attack on the dog as well”. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien.

 

A farmer who was beaten and bound by a gang of men in Co Offaly at the weekend was still recovering in hospital on Monday.

It has been revealed that the four-man gang who forced their way into the man’s home also viciously beat his dog, which was described by one local representative as the farmer’s “soulmate”.

The 54-year-old was dragged out his bed and set upon by the gang at Glasderry beg, Brosna near Birr on Saturday morning at 2am. He was beaten about the head with an implement and dragged out to a barn where he was tied up.

Gardaí have appealed for information in relation to the crime and say the burglars, who had Munster accents, used a high-powered 4X4 vehicle and wore gloves and hats.

Renua Ireland leader and local councillor John Leahy said it was a “vicious attack, and a vicious attack on the dog as well”. He said the men “grabbed the dog by the throat and gave the dog an unmerciful beating”.

The drystock farmer, who grew up in the house, herds his cattle on foot and always has his sheepdog by his side, said Cllr Leahy, who is a family friend.

The dog, which Cllr Leahy described as being “basically his soulmate”, was in the room when the gang burst in and began their attack. Since the beating, no-one has been able to approach the dog because it has been “gritting its teeth” in response, Cllr Leahy added.

He said the gang savagely beat the man before dragging him out to a barn where “they tied him up and left him for dead.”

From there, he managed to free himself and make his way to a neighbour’s house, where the alarm was raised and an ambulance was called. The farmer was recovering from his injuries at the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore.

Around six weeks earlier the farmers house was burgled and jewellery belonging to his mother was stolen. This time, Cllr Leahy said, “there was nothing there to get but they completely and utterly ransacked the house...The house is not habitable at this stage they did so much damage,” he remarked.

Cllr Leahy described the injured man as a typical bachelor farmer who would get the local weekly paper and cut out any pictures or mention of his godchildren, visit his mother in a nursing home and “keeps life very simple.”

“This man has done nothing. He is a bachelor. He was going about his business and they nearly killed him,” he said.

“They came to rob him, but why did they have to beat the dog and beat him near to death?” asked Cllr Leahy.

“They have taken his livelihood. They have taken his security away from him and they have left the family to pick up the pieces.”

Members of the local community and family members have been helping out with the farm since the attack.

Gardaí at Birr have appealed to farmers, residents and landowners in the Shinrone area to keep a look out for clothing possibly discarded in fields or hedges.

They are also seeking information on any suspicious people or vehicles in the Drumakeenan and Glassderrybeg areas on the N62 Birr to Roscrea Road, particularly from 11pm on Friday night to 3am on Saturday morning, but also in the days leading up to the attack.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Birr Garda Station 057-9169710 or the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111.