Farmer recounts terrifying home raid

A 64-year-old bachelor farmer yesterday told of his terror at being assaulted and tied up by two men at his isolated home.

Farmer recounts terrifying home raid

PJ Looney had his arms and legs tied up with cable wire.

One accused, on bail at the time for assault, had 28 previous convictions.

The victim was described by a detective garda as a small farmer with limited means.

In a victim impact report, read out at Ennis Circuit Court, Mr Looney said: “I live on my own and ever since the break-in, every time I hear strange noises on the side of my house I always remember the attack on me and I get worried and stressed for a minute until I know I am safe.”

Evidence was given that Dean O’Connor, 24, from Ferndale, Ennis Rd, Limerick and an accomplice broke into Mr Looney’s isolated home near the west Clare village of Kilmihil.

The assault occurred around 6pm on August 10, 2014.

Thomas Rice BL, prosecuting, said the purpose of the very well-planned operation was to steal anything from Mr Looney’s house that was valuable.

However, O’Connor, on bail at that time for an assault charge, and his accomplice were disturbed by a neighbour and brother-in-law of Mr Looney, Tom O’Sullivan.

He had been alarmed at seeing two strangers in the area and drove his tractor up Mr Looney’s avenue.

O’Connor and his accomplice fled.

Mr O’Sullivan, described in court as “a man of considerable courage”, was able to free Mr Looney and raise the alarm.

In a victim impact statement read out in court by Det Garda Donal Corkery, Mr Looney said that he was “tied up and badly attacked”.

“I remember when I was being attacked, I was so scared I could have been killed when they tied me up.

“I had injuries to my face and I was badly bruised.”

Mr Looney said he has put in place enhanced security measures around his house.

“Before this incident I felt safe in my house, but now I am always on edge.”

O’Connor pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, burglary, and assault.

Mr Rice said O’Connor and his accomplice rendered Mr Looney “completely immobile” after tying him up.

Det Corkery said gardaí found a hold-all bag containing a can of petrol and cable ties near Mr Looney’s house.

A motorist, not knowing what had occurred, gave the two offenders a lift into Kilmihil.

O’Connor borrowed a mobile phone, rang his mother’s number, and his stepfather collected the pair.

Det Corkery told Judge Gerald Keys no one else had been charged. O’Connor’s previous convictions include four for theft, two for burglary and one for assault.

O’Connor’s counsel Pat Whyms BL told the court: “My client is absolutely appalled by his own behaviour and apologises profusely through me to the victim.

“He is very disappointed and disgusted with himself.”

He said O’Connor could have contested the case in court but the reason he pleaded guilty was his own disgust over his behaviour.

O’Connor was remanded in custody to April 14 for sentencing.

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