herald

Saturday 19 October 2019

'We feel paranoid', says family as thieves target little Zoe's surgery fund

Zoe Murphy with parents Eamon and Lynda
Zoe Murphy with parents Eamon and Lynda

Callous thieves have targeted the home of a seriously ill two-year-old girl - possibly because her parents are raising money for life-changing surgery in America.

Zoe Murphy's family revealed yesterday that they have been the victims of two attempted break-ins in the past few weeks.

They have been forced to speak out and stress that none of the money raised so far is in their Dundalk home and they do not have access to the funds.

But Zoe's dad, Eamon, says they now feel "paranoid".

Coincidental

"We can't say for definite that it is linked to the fundraising but it's very coincidental that twice in 10 days we have two guys attempting to get in," he said.

"Our estate is very quiet and there's never any word of break-ins. We have lived here for six years and have never heard of any trouble."

Last week, he left to hand out buckets for a collection for Zoe, who was at home with Lynda.

Just 15 minutes after he left, Eamon said: "Lynda was in the kitchen and two guys were getting in our sliding doors from the back garden.

"Lynda ran, grabbed Zoe and ran out the front door and the guys, we are assuming, hopped a wall.

"With all the good publicity we've been getting, we never once thought that we would be opening ourselves up to bad attention."

Earlier in November, the family had to call gardai when they spotted two men acting suspiciously outside their house.

Gardai are currently going through CCTV footage in an effort to identify the men from the two incidents.

As a result of the attempts, the Murphys put a post on Facebook "to hopefully stress to people that of course we have no access to any of Zoe's funds and would never keep money in the house".

"It's horrible, it has turned something that was going so well into something that we feel we have to watch what we post about, or even announce the funds we have raised," Eamon said.

"It is very sad because we now feel very paranoid about things we should be celebrating," he added.

The couple emphasised that no money for Zoe's operation is kept in their house.

There are two committees, with treasurers who handle all funds collected for Zoe and deal with the bank accounts.

"We have trustees that handle the funds and we do not have access to them and won't until we are paying Dr TS Park in America," Eamon added.

Just last week, the family said the response to their appeal to raise €100,000 for Zoe's spinal operation had been "unbelievable".

Response

Lynda and Eamon confirmed they had reached the halfway mark and were blown away by the support in their hometown.

"The response has been unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable," Lynda said.

They have been told that without the procedure Zoe will struggle to walk as she was born with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

It has left her with severe muscle pain and in recent months Eamon (37) and Lynda (32) have used cannabis oil to relieve her muscle spasms.

The procedure is called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) and it will be performed at St Louis Children's Hospital, Missouri, by paediatric neurosurgeon Dr TS Park.

If you want to donate to Zoe's fund, go to: gofundme.com/zoemurphyappeal.

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