By David Raleigh
Gardaí are hunting a three-man gang who beat and robbed an elderly man in his home in Co Limerick.
The vicious assault occurred during an hour-long aggravated burglary at the man's house in Ballinhowen, near Kilmallock between 11pm last Thursday night and Friday morning.
The victim, a 66-year old man, is recovering from his injuries, and Gardaí have appealed for help in tracing the gang.
Sergeant Justin McCarthy, Crime Prevention Officer, Roxboro Road Garda Station said: "The culprits wearing balaclavas and head torches forced their way into the house. They assaulted the victim and held him captive while they ransacked his house."
"A sum of money and other items were stolen in this burglary. Before leaving the culprits locked the victim in his house and stole his mobile phone," Sgt McCarthy said.
Gardaí said the victim managed to escape through a window after the gang left and raise the alarm at a neighbour's house.
The man was "punched in the stomach" by one of the raiders.
The gang stole cash and a shotgun from the farmer's house, Gardaí said.
"The poor fella was in shock. He got a punch in the stomach but he did not need to be hospitalised. It was a terrible incident," a garda source said.
Gardaí have set up an incident room at Bruff Garda Station.
"This house is located in an isolated area which lies off the Kilmallock Killdorrery Road," added Sgt McCarthy.
"Gardaí at Bruff are appealing for any witnesses or anyone who may have noticed any unusual or suspicious activity to contact them," he added.
Bruff Gardaí can be contacted at 061 382940. Anyone with information can also contact the Garda Confidential Hotline on 1800 666 111.
Meanwhile, in a separate incident, Gardai from Henry Street responded to a burglary in progress at a house in Davitt Street, Johnsgate at 1.30am this morning, and arrested a 23-year old man.
The man was arrested at the scene and will be appearing before the courts, Gardaí said.
Gardaí in Roxboro Road are also investigating a burglary at Castlewell Courtbrack Avenue, South Circular Road at approximately 8.10pm last Thursday.
The culprits had broken into the property by a back window and were disturbed by a third party, and fled the scene.
Three men aged 42, 29, and 26 years, along with a 26-year old woman, were arrested shortly after by patrolling Gardaí from Roxboro Road.
All four have been charged with offences relating to the burglary and will be appearing before the courts, Gardaí said.
Gardaí have also appealed for information relating to the whereabouts of a sum of cash in foreign currency, which was stolen during a daytime burglary at a house in Castletroy last Friday.
The currency was made up of Chinese and Hong Kong banknotes. Gardaí at Henry Street can be contacted on 061212400 or 1800 666 111.