Gerry Garvey, his wife Anne, and their two sets of twins Grace and Gordon, then 16, and Graham and Gillian, then 14, were all at home when masked men armed with a sawn-off shotgun, a sledgehammer, and baseball bats, stormed their house, crashing in through a patio door.
As two men, Christopher Stokes, 42, Knocknaheeny, Cork, and John Cahill, 30, Doon, Co Limerick, complete their fist week in jail on sentences of seven years (Stokes) and five years (Cahill) for aggravated burglary, Mr Garvey, a 54-year-old community development manager in Limerick, has spoken of how the events of that day changed their lives.
“On the evening of Monday April 16, 2012, the lives of all our family were changed dramatically as a result of a frightening aggravated burglary at our home in Sunville, Pallasgreen. Up to that point our home was a place of peace and tranquillity where our children happily roamed the gardens with their friends and pets, without a care in the world.
“As a result of this horrible event all of us feel constantly edgy and fearful in our own gardens, even within the confines of the house. Doors and gates are now almost always locked and none of the children will venture outside once dusk appears. Any loud noise, whether a loud knock at the door or a cup or glass smashing on the floor sends shivers down our spines in a way that never previously existed.
“Countless neighbours contacted me in the days following the event sharing their growing fears that it could happen to them too. They too are still locking gates and doors and living in a state of constant fear.
“Even two years on, these abnormal fears, while a little lessened, are still very present, especially for our youngest twins, who were just 14 years old at the time.
In Gillian’s words: “I still have a fear of going outside around the grounds of the house at night because I think someone is watching me... Since the robbery I also get the feeling that random men on the street are watching me or they were in the robbery.”
Mr Garvey adds: “Her twin brother, Graham, who was assaulted during the robbery, also fears going outside even though he has spent a large amount of his growing years outside in our garden and is a true ‘outdoor’ person.
He comments: “If I go outside in the evenings I think that someone is going to attack me. At night I don’t like going down the back stairs because I think that a man is going to smash in the door. When I come in the back door I always run up the stairs because I think someone is going to run up after me. I used to love watching crime programmes but I can’t watch them now because it brings it all back to me and then I have nightmares again about that night.”
Mr Graham adds: “My wife, Anne, while she doesn’t like to say much about it, will never forget that Monday evening when Graham ran screaming into her bathroom pursued by two armed and masked ‘individuals’. It is said that time is a great healer and time has helped a little, as has the great support of the local and regional gardaí, who have been there for us at all times up to today.
“However none of us will ever forget the terror of that night. The fact that individuals, at least some of those involved, have been brought to justice is a source of some solace but the absence of any indication of apology or any shred of remorse is much more than just very disappointing.
“Our hope now is that we never experience anything like this again and that no other family should suffer such a horrendous and violent invasion in their own home. However, given the number of somewhat similar incidents in these past two years, I suspect that our wish is in vain and these terrible events will keep happening unabated.
“Finally we wish to thank the gardaí and our family, neighbours and friends for their support throughout these past two years.”