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Wednesday 23 August 2017

Thugs 'beat Jimmy (94) over the head with his own walking stick'

Jimmy Campion (94) was assaulted by burglars during a raid on his Roscrea bungalow, which left him with a head wound
Jimmy Campion (94) was assaulted by burglars during a raid on his Roscrea bungalow, which left him with a head wound

Violent thieves broke a 94-year-old man's own walking stick over his head, his family say.

Jimmy Campion was in the kitchen of his small terraced bungalow, on the Old Dublin Road in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, when two men broke in through a side window at around 11.45pm on Sunday.

His wife, Maura (87), was in the bedroom when the burglary happened.

The two men attacked the elderly grandfather and hit him with two blows to the head.

"His walking stick was broken in two on the kitchen floor, we think they may have hit him with it," said the victim's son-in-law, Harry Wall.

"I had to go in on Sunday night afterwards with the gardai to get their tablets, and the house was destroyed. They turned it upside down."

Shocking

The couple's daughter, Evelyn Wall, said the attackers acted as if they lived in the home.

"My mother told me she went into the kitchen, she must have heard the commotion. 'They brushed past me and into the bedroom like they lived here', she told me. Isn't that just shocking?" Ms Wall said.

When the two men escaped - with a sum of money - Maura managed to contact gardai.

Her husband was bleeding heavily from a head wound.

He was taken by ambulance to the Midlands Regional Hospital, where his cut was closed with staples.

Sunday night's robbery was not the first time the elderly couple had been targeted by burglars, according to Ms Wall.

"It's just shocking. They are private people just minding their own business," she said.

"They were both born and bred in Roscrea. Dad was a boner in the meat plant and my mother was a dressmaker.

"Dad had a stroke three or four years ago.

"They were robbed three years ago while they were at Mass.

"These people are either desperate for money or they just didn't care.

"I think they just didn't care."

Neighbour Margaret Ryan (81), who has lived next to the family for more than 40 years, said it is difficult to know what the elderly couple is going through.

"You don't realise it yourself, until it happens to you," she said.

"I feel so sorry for them. Everyone was ringing me today, to see if I was OK.

"There's no gardai around anymore. They used to patrol the roads when there was no crime."

Her husband, Rody, called for further security measures on the streets, rather than in people's homes, to be brought in to prevent future incidents.

"If they're going to break in, they're going to break in. There's not a lot you can do, even with all the security equipment. They could break a window and get in," he said.

"What they could do is put in some security cameras, they don't cost too much."

The scene of the robbery was sealed off yesterday and forensically examined by members of the Garda Technical Bureau.

A laneway at the side of the house leads to a gate, which it is believed the raiders opened to gain access to the side window of the house before breaking in.

The house is situated at the end of a terrace of bungalows on the outskirts of the town.

Anger

Standing outside the house and trying to take in the level of violence used against the couple was Margaret Doyle, secretary of the Roscrea Active Retirement Association.

"My first reaction was shock, and then anger," she said.

"Violent crime does not happen in Roscrea, at least it didn't before now. Is this going to be the new norm from now on?

"When people get caught then they just get a slap on the wrist. The politicians need to step up. Roscrea is now the forgotten town between Laois and Offaly."

Retired postman John Gleeson (80) said there is fear in the town among elderly people since the attack.

"The man is a proper gentleman, and she is a lovely woman," he said.

"We are shocked that someone could attack a man that age. There is no respect anymore.

"We need more gardai, but they can't be everywhere either I suppose."

Kieran Moloney worked with Jimmy at the Roscrea meat factory for more than 15 years, and said the burglars were picking on the "most vulnerable".

"I knew Jimmy well. He was a boner here at the meat factory. He was a very quiet, inoffensive man. You wouldn't even know he was around," he said.

"He worked here all his life, and he retired here in 1985 when it closed down.

"You'd speak to him and he'd speak to you. His family would have been all the very same, so they couldn't have picked on a more vulnerable man. He'd only look after his wife there."

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