By David Raleigh
Gardaí are hunting a gang who "seriously assaulted a defenceless chicken farmer" by knocking him down at his home when fleeing his property after attempting to rob him.
The gang were driving a silver coloured '04 registered car when they entered the man's yard, located a mile outside Newcastle West at Ahawilk, Feoghanagh, at 2.15pm, last Saturday.
Gardaí today issued an alert for information about the vehicle, and appealed for the public to use the Newcastle West Community Text Alert system to pass on information in confidence to gardaí.
Newcastle West-based Superintendent Tom O'Connor said today gardaí were treating the broad daylight attack "very seriously".
"This is a serious assault causing harm to this defenceless man, in an isolated rural area, where people were going to engage in a theft of his property," Supt O'Connor said.
"The gang drove at him when he questioned them about what they were doing and to put back his stuff. They drove a car at him and seriously assaulted him with the vehicle," he added.
The 68-year-old man's wife, upon hearing shouts outside the house, discovered her husband with serious injuries lying on the ground.
The father of three was airlifted to University Hospital Limerick where he has undergone surgery to one of his hands.
The gang had been trying to steal bales of wood shavings used by the man as bedding for his chickens when he confronted them.
"He got a knock to the head, in the ribs and shoulders. The most serious breakage is to his hand, and he got a bad knock to the head, he got a knock to the shoulder, he has bruising down his side, Supt O'Connor said.
"He got a belt of a car into the legs first which knocked him to the ground with fairly severe force. It's an assault causing serious harm.
"It was a serious attack on this defenceless man," he added.
According to a source the man "underwent surgery yesterday and had metal plates fitted to his hand".
"The right hand side of his body was badly injured and he sustained a serious leg and head wound when the car struck him," the source added.
Gardaí said they were not yet able to speak to the man, as he was "traumatised" and recovering after surgery.
Although no arrests have been made, gardaí have received possible key information from two sources.
"Our community text alert system has been very successful in the past and I would hope anybody who has any bit of information, even if they think it's not much, that they pass it on to us here at Newcastle West Garda station on 069-20650," appealed Supt O'Connor.
It is believed the farmer is to be transferred to Croom orthopaedic hospital for a further operation in the coming days.