A mother who had been recovering from breast cancer yesterday relived, along with her husband and their four young children, a night of terror when an armed gang burst into their rural home in Co Limerick.
Ann Garvey, of Sunville House, Pallasgreen, who had just undergone a mastectomy, was having a bath when two of the raiders forced their way into the bathroom, warning her they would shoot one of her daughters if she did not get up and hand over keys of a safe.
Her husband Gerard had a sawn-off shotgun pressed to his forehead after being handcuffed in the downstairs sitting room.
One of their daughters, then aged 16, was bound with cable ties and her twin brother was punched in the face and they threatened him to crack his skull with a baseball bat.
Three men have gone on trial at Limerick Circuit Court.
Patrick Roche, aged 52, of Kilcronan Close, Clondalkin, Dublin, his son Philip Roche, aged 24, of the same address, and Alan Freeman, aged 37, of Pearse Park, Tipperary Town, have pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated burglary at the Garvey home on the night of April 16, 2012, when armed with a sawn-off shotgun, a baseball bat and a sledgehammer.
Patrick and Philip Roche also pleaded not guilty to an aggravated burglary at the home of elderly siblings William, Nora and Christina Creed at Ballyluddy, Pallasgreen, on May 31, 2012.
In evidence yesterday, Gerard Garvey said he was at home with is wife Ann and their children two sets of twins, Grace and Gordon then 16; and Gillian and Graham then 14.
He was in the kitchen at around 10pm studying for an exam. He heard a loud bang from the living room and on going there was confronted by three or four figures who had come through the curtains after smashing in the patio door. They were dressed all in black, wearing homemade balaclavas.
One of the gang had a double barrel sawn-off shotgun and another carried a sledgehammer. Mr Garvey said: “I was concentrating on the one with the double barrel shotgun which was pointed at me... I hesitated and tried to compose myself and I slowly complied with their wishes to get face down and they got my daughter, Grace to get down by me. They got out plastic ties and tied her hands.
“He [the man with the gun] said: ‘we’ll blow your head off and we will take your kids away and you’ll never see them again.’ ”
The butt of the gun was put against his forehead so hard that it left a mark which remained for days.
The gang were demanding the keys of the safe. The gunman spoke with a hint of a Dublin accent.
Mr Garvey said he had taken out $3,000 from his bank account for a holiday in the US and these were in crisp new notes. There was also £5,000 in the safe.
Ann Garvey said as she was having a bath two of her children, Gillian and Graham came into the bathroom, followed by two men.
Graham was pushed in by one of the men and all he could see were this man’s eyes through a balaclava They shouted at Gillian and Graham to get on the floor . She feared they would hurt the children and one told Gillian to get a towel for her and she put on a dressing gown.
They threatened to go down the stairs and kill her other daughter if she did not move fast and open the safe.
She opened the safe and gave them $3,800 and £5,000. They still wanted more.
“I said I did not have any more money and they bundled me into the bathroom,” she said. “I felt very vulnerable in the bath and trying to keep myself covered as I had a mastectomy six months previously and felt frightened. They said they would hurt my children, who were very young.”
Grace Garvey, then aged 16, said four men burst in after she heard a bang at the patio door. Gillian and Graham ran upstairs to alert their mother who was having a bath and they were followed by two of the raiders.
One of the gang had a gun and another a long hammer-like thing.
They told her dad they would take the children if they did not get the keys of the safe. As she lay on the ground, her hands were bound with cable ties.
Graham Garvey said he ran upstairs with Gillian. Two of the raiders, one with a baseball bat, followed them into the bathroom and one punched him in the face.
He was forced to lay on the floor and the baseball bat was pressed against his head. One of men kept his boot on his shoulder and said he would crack his skull if he did not get keys to the safe.
Sgt Helen Holden said, on arriving at Sunville House after gardaí were alerted, she found a scene of “panic, pandemonium, and trauma”.
Det Garda Niamh Brosnan was accompanied by Det Garda Senan O’Sullivan at the scene and recalled the family were extremely upset and in a state of shock.
Det Brosnan said Gerry Garvey was still in handcuffs and Det O’Sullivan managed to remove them with bolt cutters.
The trial continues.
Three men plead not guilty to aggravated burglary during raid of rural Limerick home
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