Gardaí seek witnesses after elderly brothers tied up in house robbery

Sat, Jun 9, 2012, 01:00

GARDAÍ IN north Galway are appealing for witnesses as part of their investigation into an aggravated burglary in which two elderly brothers living in a secluded farmhouse near Williamstown were tied up and robbed.

Owen (80) and Michael Kelly (82) declined to go to hospital yesterday after their ordeal.

They were threatened and then tied up by two men, believed to be carrying a knife and a gun, who had broken into their home in Ballyroe townland after 11pm on Thursday night – when torrential rain confined many people to their homes in the west of the country.

The two intruders were wearing balaclavas and had Irish accents, Galway gardaí say. They are said to have spent three hours in the house, ransacking it and taking a small amount of cash before leaving the scene at about 2.30am.

The brothers managed to free themselves and raise the alarm at about 6am yesterday. Their house is within 40 yards of neighbours but on a secluded laneway.

The Ballyroe townland is on the Ballymoe side of Williamstown, near the Roscommon border. Ballymoe parish priest Fr Joe Poole said that it was a “very sad day when someone breaks into the home of two old men who have worked all their lives”.

Fr Francis McGrath of Williamstown parish said a meeting had been held just a fortnight ago to try to revive a community alert programme. There had been an incident recently in Ballygar, also near the Roscommon border, he noted.

“The idea of the [community alert] scheme was to prevent things like this happening,” Fr McGrath said.

“People in the area will have to keep their eyes on any strange cars with strange registrations and take note of the numbers.”

Labour Party Senator Lorraine Higgins described the attack as nothing short of “barbaric”.

“A robbery such as this is an affront to all basic human dignity and it offends us all, attacking as it does one of the most vulnerable sections of society,” Ms Higgins said. She appealed to people in local communities to keep an eye on elderly neighbours, particularly in isolated districts.

She was aware of a number of incidents recently in Dunmore, north of Tuam, Co Galway, which were a cause for concern.

Gardaí in Tuam have released a description of the intruders and have appealed to the public for help. One man was about 5ft 5in and of medium build, while the second was taller and again of medium build. Both wore dark clothes and runners.

Tuam gardaí said anyone who may have witnessed anything unusual, or suspicious activity in or around the area, at the time or in the preceding days should phone Tuam station at 093-70840, the Garda confidential line on 1800- 666111 or any Garda station.