Farmer’s house too damaged for return after attack

A farmer who was beaten and bound by a gang of men will not be able to return to his home when he leaves hospital due to the damage caused by the attackers.

The four-man gang who forced their way into his home in Co Offaly over the weekend also viciously beat the man’s dog, which was described by a councillor as the farmer’s soulmate.

The 54-year-old farmer was dragged out his bed by the gang at Glasderry beg, Brosna, near Birr, Co Offaly, at 2am on Saturday. He was beaten in the head with an implement and dragged to a barn, where he was tied up.

Gardaí have appealed for information about the crime and say the burglars, who had Munster accents, used a high-powered 4x4 vehicle and wore gloves and hats.

Local councillor John Leahy described it as “a vicious attack and a vicious attack on the dog as well”.

Mr Leahy said the gang “grabbed the dog by the throat and gave the dog an unmerciful beating”.

The drystock farmer, who grew up in the house, herds his cattle on foot and always has his sheepdog by his side, said Mr Leahy, who is a family friend. The dog, which he said was “basically his soulmate”, was in the room when the gang burst in and began their attack. Since the beating, no-one has been able to approach the dog because it is just bearing its teeth, said Mr Leahy.

The gang savagely beat the man before dragging him out to a barn where “they tied him up and left him for dead”. He managed to free himself and make his way to a neighbour’s house, where the alarm was raised and an ambulance was called. The farmer was expected to be discharged from hospital last night, but was not expected to return to his home.

The house was previously burgled around six weeks earlier the house, and all of the jewellery belonging to the farmer’s mother was stolen. This time, Mr Leahy said, “there was nothing there to get but they completely and utterly ransacked the house”.

“He is not going back to the house,” said Mr Leahy. “The house is not habitable at this stage, they did so much damage.”

Mr Leahy described the injured man as a typical bachelor farmer who would get the local weekly paper and cut out any pictures or mention of his godchildren, visit his mother in the nursing home, and “keeps life very simple”.

“This man has done nothing,” said Mr Leahy. “He was going about his business and they nearly killed him. They have taken his livelihood. They have taken his security away from him and they have left the family to pick up the pieces.”

He said there is a “deep sense of fear and disgust” in the community.

Gardaí at Birr have appealed to farmers, residents, and landowners in the Shinrone area to keep a lookout for clothing that might have been discarded in fields or hedges.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Birr Garda Station 057 916 9710 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.


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