Kidnap victim rescued following high-speed chase

A woman was subjected to a traumatic ordeal when she was held at knifepoint and bundled into the back of her car by two men before being driven away at high speed.

The incident began at 6pm on Wednesday in Longford town and ended some miles away when the car crashed.

The woman, aged in her 40s, owns a well-known business in the town. Gardaí are investigating if the men planned to force her to withdraw cash or demand money for her release.

She was going to her vehicle at the Heaton’s Car Park on Ballymahon St, in the centre of the town, when she was grabbed by the men, both wearing balaclavas. She was forced into her Mercedes by the men, one of whom then sped off.

A person who had witnessed two men wearing balaclavas in the area had just contacted gardaí. The attackers escaped along the Athlone Road. A garda car caught up with the Mercedes and twice attempted to get it to stop.

The garda car was slightly damaged when the Mercedes hit against it. Officers decided to keep a distance as the vehicle was being driven in a “dangerous” fashion, garda sources said.

However, the car spun out of control, left the road, and struck a ditch. The woman and one of the men suffered injuries. The second man got out but was hit by another vehicle but managed to escape into a field.

The garda car which was following them came upon the scene and alerted the emergency services.

“At approximately 5.55pm, a woman aged in her 40s was confronted at knifepoint by two males as she returned to her car at a carpark on Ballymahon St,” said a Garda spokesman.

“The woman was forced into her car by the men and driven from the scene at speed. The car was observed and followed by gardaí.

“A short time later on the Athlone Road the car left the road and struck a ditch.”

He said the woman was taken by ambulance to Mullingar Hospital and received treatment. She was discharged yesterday and taken home, to Tarmonbarry, 9km outside town. Gardaí said she was traumatised by what was an “absolutely shocking” ordeal.

A male aged in his 20s was also taken from the scene by ambulance. He was removed to Tullamore Hospital, where he is being treated. It will be today, at the earliest, before he is released into garda custody

The second man was located shortly after the incident.

“During a follow-up operation, involving local uniform and detective gardaí assisted by the regional support unit, a male aged in his 20s was arrested a short distance away,” said the garda spokesman.

He was detained under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 at Longford Garda Station.

A technical examination of the car is underway and gardaí are hopeful of charges and are gathering CCTV images.

They are appealing to anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in Ballymahon St to ring them on 043 3350570, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda station.


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