A DETECTIVE'S wife was beaten up by a gang who gardai believe were looking for her husband.
The woman was attacked in her home while the couple's children slept upstairs.
Two masked men, armed with knives, barged into the officer's house on Friday night and demanded to know where the detective garda was.
After discovering that she was not at home, the men assaulted the woman.
A major investigation is underway into the incident in Charlestown, Co Mayo.
It is suspected that the raiders may have wanted to kidnap or seriously injure the officer because of his work. At the time the garda was working in Boyle, Co Roscommon – some 45km away.
Gardai are trying to identify a motive for the attack in a bid to identify the gang involved.
They will also want to know what the gang intended doing if the officer had been at home.
A garda source said: "This will cause shockwaves through the entire Garda organisation especially in light of the cold-blooded murder of Adrian Donohoe in Louth."
The couple's two youngest children – aged three and one – were asleep upstairs when the raiders burst through the front door.
They told the officer's wife they were looking for her husband and demanded to know if he was in the house.
When she told them he was at work they refused to believe her. The young mother was punched and beaten but did not suffer serious injury.
The two raiders then searched the rest of the house, including the bedrooms where the children were asleep.
The attackers then tied the officer's wife to a child safety gate on the stairs and left.
Nothing was taken during the raid. She managed to free herself some time later and called her husband, who raised the alarm and rushed home.
A Garda source said last night: "This is a very sinister development and such an incident has not been heard of before. The raiders knew exactly who they were looking for and seemed determined to find him."
Gardai are examining the files of recent criminal investigations the officer worked on in a bid to uncover clues to the gang's identity. One of the raiders is described as being six-feet tall and wearing a red/green jacket, while the other was dressed in a dark tracksuit.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Swinford Garda Station on 094 9252990, the Garda Confidential Line on 1-800-666-111 or any garda station.