Three men who tied an elderly woman to a fence and attacked her during a violent robbery were tonight being hunted by detectives.
Senior officers said the 68-year-old victim suffered an absolutely horrific ordeal when she was assaulted at her isolated home in Co Waterford.
Age Action described the robbery as deplorable.
“Attacks like this on an older person are the lowest form of crime,” said spokesman Eamon Timmons.
“The nature of this crime is deplorable.
“To rob somebody in their home is bad, but to carry out that level of violence against them is shocking.”
The three men broke into the woman’s house at Drumgelane, Grange, near Ardmore, at about 4.30am on Saturday.
Garda Inspector Paul Heffernan said the raiders went into her bedroom where they tied her to a bed and demanded cash – which was handed over.
“Then she was dragged outside in to her back yard, tied to a stake, and beaten again,” he said.
The culprits searched the house for more money but fled the scene in a car when they couldn’t find any.
She managed to free herself from the ropes and called gardaí.
“It was an absolutely horrific ordeal for this lady and the whole community in the area is shocked,” continued Insp Heffernan.
“It just beggars belief as to why this lady was subjected to this ordeal.
“The whole incident came as a complete and utter shock to her. She was terrified at the time. The manner in which she was treated and the fear she was subjected to may have affected her in terms of description.”
The men are said to be in their 20s, with one of the three having a larger frame than his co-accused.
The victim is recovering in Waterford Regional Hospital, where gardaí hope to question her again over the mindless attack.
Gardaí urged anyone who saw people or a car acting suspiciously between 2am and 5am on Saturday morning to come forward immediately.
Last month Paddy Barry, the grandfather of television magician Keith Barry, died following a robbery at his home.
His heartbroken grandson later called for tougher laws to tackle criminals who break into pensioners’ homes.
Age Action also warned older people to take security precautions at home and warned them not keep large sums of money in the house.
Mr Timmins called on communities and older people to keep in regular touch with elderly neighbours.
Crime Victims Helpline (CVH) said while older people living alone are vulnerable and can be easy targets for criminals, most will never experience a crime.
Meanwhile, the Law Reform Commission is drafting a bill on complex legislation to tackle rules around break-ins and what a householder can do to protect themselves.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern is planning to table reforms before Christmas.
Homeowners have been urged to have their say on how to protect themselves against criminals breaking into their property by giving their views to the Dáil’s joint committee on justice.