herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

'My son was trying to do right thing when he shot burglar targeting home'

Richard Lowndes in his Kilsallaghan Co Dublin home alongside his son Graham Lowndes.
Richard Lowndes in his Kilsallaghan Co Dublin home alongside his son Graham Lowndes.

An elderly Dublin farmer has said criminals, like the man who burgled his home, are "like hyenas looking for the weakest prey".

Matthew Fahey broke into the home of north Dublin farmer Richard Lowndes and ransacked it in 2012. Mr Lowndes' son Graham shot the convicted criminal in the arm with a shotgun and is now being sued in a civil case by the burglar.

Mr Lowndes (83) has said his son was "trying to do the right thing" as he went after the thief through the fields of the North County Dublin farm, near Swords.

Fahey has more than 60 convictions for theft, burglary and car theft. The former Finglas resident, who is a drug addict, pleaded guilty to the burglary of the farmhouse and of another house earlier the same day in April 2012. He received a six-year sentence with four years suspended.

plight Speaking to the Herald in his home Mr Lowndes and his son Graham expressed anger at the plight of elderly or rural citizens being targeted by thieves.

Matthew Fahey
Matthew Fahey

"I believe it is still too easy for criminals to cruise at leisure around rural Ireland looking for poor, unfortunate victims to burgle. They're like hyenas looking for the weakest prey," he said.

Graham, a father-of-five, was recently given the Probation Act in Dublin District Court, after he pleaded guilty to having a shotgun without a certificate on the day he shot Fahey. A charge of reckless discharge of a shotgun against him was dropped.

Having his criminal case hang over him for four years has been "four years of hell" for his son, Mr Lowndes said.

Meanwhile, Graham (51) is also still living with the after-effects of the events and he said he still worries about his elderly dad's safety, and feels "very angry" at reports of elderly people being targeted in their homes.

He advised burglary victims to call for gardai if they find themselves in a similar position, and not to act in the heat of the moment, however.

Richard has lived in the farmhouse for 54 years and raised a family of four there with his wife Dorothy, who died in 2003.

He was 79 when Fahey ransacked his home. The burglar first called to the house with a ruse earlier that day. He told Richard that his van had broken down and the woman with him was feeling ill.

He asked if he could use his phone to call a taxi to bring her home to Finglas, the farmer recalled.

"I gave the two of them tea at the table and he had plenty of talk," he said.

"I told him that I was leaving the house shortly to travel to Dundalk," he added.

Fahey broke into the empty house that afternoon and stole two watches and €200 in cash. Graham Lowndes, whose official name is Richard, arrived when the thief was still on the property.

Graham, who works as a lorry driver reversed his lorry into the farmyard, unknowingly blocking the escape route of the burglar's Lexus car. When he discovered the house ransacked, he felt angry.

After seeing tyre tracks from the yard into the fields, he grabbed a shotgun belonging to his father and ran down through the fields. The car had crossed two fields and he confronted Fahey in the hope of detaining him until the gardai arrived.

Fire

"I was in fear of my life, but I felt I had to do something," he said.

He said he did not know whether the thief might have had a concealed gun or not. The confrontation resulted in the shotgun being discharged. Fahey is now suing over the injuries caused by 17 shotgun pellets.

He was driven away from the scene by another man in a large BMW SUV which stopped on a nearby road.

Mr Lowndes has called for cameras which recognise number plates to be installed to tackle criminal gangs, and for a stronger garda presence in vulnerable areas.

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