Two charged over vicious attack on elderly couple

TWO men were charged in connection with an attack on a retired couple living on the banks of the Shannon.

The couple, a 65-year-old retired German man and his 74-year-old Irish wife, were terrorised in their bungalow in Fisherstown outside the town of Clondra in Co Longford in the early hours of Thursday.

The attack, described by gardaí as “horrendous”, involved Mary Sperath and her husband Heinz being threatened with a taser device.

The couple were also threatened with having their fingers cut off unless they complied with the gang’s demands for money. The attackers were also armed with a firearm and a knife.

Three men, understood to be from Dublin, were arrested close to the scene of the attack at around 1.20am on Thursday. They were taken to Longford Garda Station and questioned under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.

Two men, 31-year-old Christian Wren of 81 Ballyfermot Drive, Dublin 10 and 24-year-old Anthony Flannery of no fixed abode in Dublin were both charged with aggravated burglary.

Judge John Neilan remanded both men in custody at Cloverhill Prison to appear again in court there on December 17.

A third man, aged in his 30s, was released without charge and a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The elderly couple were said to be severely traumatised and bleeding heavily after the terrifying incident. They were taken to Roscommon General Hospital for treatment and were said to be in a stable condition yesterday.

It is understood they only moved to the local area in recent years and that they have a boat on the Shannon close to their home.

One avenue of investigation is that the raiders targeted the wrong house and had intended to focus on another house in the area.

Meanwhile, the father of magician Keith Barry yesterday criticised Justice Minister Dermot Ahern for the lack of action taken against those who terrorise elderly people.

Ken Barry, whose own father died less than a week after being attacked in his home in Waterford city in September, said pledges of action from Mr Ahern in the wake of that incident had so far led nowhere.

Speaking on the Gerry Ryan Show on 2FM, he said: “We don’t know what was said to my dad because nobody’s been caught and nobody’s been charged.”

Mr Barry said he was particularly worried about “the empty rhetoric” from both the Government and the legal profession.

“Who is doing anything? Dermot Ahern says he’s asked the Attorney General to look into mandatory sentencing – what the hell does that mean?”

He said he was being contacted by women and men in their 50s who were “petrified” in their homes and “easy prey” for criminals.

He said harsh sentences such as mandatory 10-year sentences with no remission if caught would help deter such criminals from breaking into the homes of elderly people.

“It won’t stop them all, it won’t happen, but what we do need is a deterrent,” he said.

Meanwhile, gardaí in Athlone have ruled out foul play in the case of the discovery of a woman’s body in an apartment in the village of Ballykeeran late on Thursday night.

The woman is said to be in her 20s and it is understood she may have had an underlying medical condition.


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