Security guard beaten by gang and locked in boot of his car for nine hours
A hang beat a security guard with a knuckleduster and locked him in the boot of his car for nine hours.
Three men waited for the guard, a foreign national, as he arrived for his shift at the Irish Rail compound in rural Kilbricken, Mountrath, Co Laois, on Tuesday at 5.30am.
One man approached the guard in his car and smashed the window with a knuckleduster.
The Irish Rail worker was then hit over the head, before his mobile phone was stolen and he was locked in the boot.
Gardai believe the attackers were a Traveller gang, but are keeping an open mind.
It is understood they were looking for copper wire, but made off with tools and fuel.
The victim was locked in the boot from just after 5.30am until 2.30pm, when Irish Rail workers raised the alarm.
Irish Rail is using the compound as a base for major works on the Dublin-Cork line. The company has stepped up security as a result of the attack.
"Staff working on track improvement works overnight were finishing up for the night," an Irish Rail spokesman said.
"The security person was securing the compound when a group of people arrived at the site and hit him over the head before locking him in the boot of his own car.
"They subsequently stole a number of items from the site."
He said the man remained locked in the boot until his colleague was due to start his shift and realised that something was amiss.
"This is a very distressing incident for all involved, particularly the security person, and we are reviewing our security procedures at this location with our security provider," the spokesman added.
Gardai are also investigating the incident.
Laois Independent councillor James Kelly described the attack as "barbaric and savage".
"They set upon this man like animals," he said.
"He was just going to work to do his job and they beat him badly. He was bleeding from the eye and he was left in the boot of his own car for hours in that condition in very cold weather.
"Imagine the fear he must have endured. This was savagery and, although we have been experiencing a lot of diesel and oil thefts in recent weeks, this is a step beyond that.
"I hope to God they are caught soon. To beat someone and lock them in a car like that, it's shocking.
"He didn't have a chance to call anyone for help.
"This is a peaceful farming area and we've never seen anything like this.
"This is clearly an organised gang and they need to be stopped now. I hope we get more garda patrols at night."
Gardai in Portlaoise are investigating.
"The compound is in a rural area and the assailants left the area in a vehicle, the make and model of which is unknown at this time," a garda statement said.