Escaper sought by gardai for attacks on elderly


A 20 year old traveller, wanted for some of the attacks on elderly farmers in the west, absconded from Loughan House open prison in Cavan a month ago, it has been learned.

The man, who stole one of the prison officers' cars when he absconded, is one of the 1,000 or so offenders unlawfully at large in the State who are responsible for a significant amount of crime.

The Loughan House absconder, who has had a criminal record for burglary since he was 14, was seen by gardai in a stolen car near the scene of some of the attacks on elderly farmers in the Galway Roscommon area in December.

He is one of a gang of young men from travelling families settled in west Dublin who have been identified by gardai as being responsible for some of the recent violent attacks on elderly people in the west.

He has disappeared since being identified in connection with raids almost two weeks ago. He has previously absconded to England.

The number and serious nature of the attacks on the elderly has caused consternation throughout rural Ireland.

Tomorrow the Minister for Justice, Ms Owen, is to meet representatives of the Irish Farmers' Association and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers' Association who are demanding protection for elderly members of the farming community.

The Minister is also holding a meeting with the rural development group, Muintir na Tire, today.

Ms Owen has also announced a review of security at Loughan House.

The young absconder sought by gardai for the raids is one of 40 prisoners who escaped from the prison last year.

Local people have complained about a serious rise in burglaries in the area, attributed to Loughan House inmates.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday gardai arrested a 15 year old member of another well known extended traveller family, also currently settled in west Dublin, after he was captured by a farmer at his house in Roscommon.

The farmer came upon a number of young men raiding his home and was able to restrain one of them despite being attacked by two other young men.

The car used in the incident on Tuesday morning was later spotted by gardai in Rathfarnham and subsequently found burned out.

Two farms near Portumna, Co Galway, were raided during Tuesday morning. Other raids attributed to the young members of the travelling community in west Dublin have taken place in Galway, Roscommon and Longford.

However, some of the worst incidents, in particular separate attacks where one elderly man was tortured with a lighted candle and another where an elderly man was raped, have been attributed to two men gardai described as "settled travellers" from the west of Ireland.

These two men were accompanied by a woman in the incident where an elderly man was raped.

The attacks on elderly people in isolated farms has risen steadily in the past year.

At least 40 elderly farmers were attacked in the west of Ireland during the autumn and in most cases, gardai believe, criminals from travelling communities were responsible.