A 79-year-old pensioner who spent six weeks in hospital after he was subjected to an aggravated burglary alongside his 84-year-old sister is celebrating after he was given a new home by a charity that assists in independent living for the elderly.
A thief broke into the home of Gerry O’Halloran on February 13 last, making away with his and his sister’s savings of €1,800. His older sister Mary visited Gerry at his home in Boyce’s Street in Gurranabraher shortly after 7.30am when the robbery was underway.
She was trying to open the door with a key but it was blocked. The robber, who was armed with a knife with a long blade, pulled back the door and grabbed Mary shoving her over by a bed.
The thief kept the pensioners captive at knifepoint for an hour in what they both described as having been a terrifying experience. He cut off the phone line so they couldn’t raise the alarm and removed bulbs from light fixtures.
He fled the scene after taking the cash from the siblings. The alarm was raised by home help who arrived to give Gerry breakfast.
Following the incident, Gerry was too nervous to return home and efforts were made to secure alternative accommodation for him. He spent nine days in hospital and a further five weeks at the St Mary's healthcare complex.
Mary suffered a cut to a thumb in the attack. Ms O’Halloran said that she was delighted when her brother was contacted by SHARE Cork, which is a registered charity that raises funds to make existing houses for Cork city’s vulnerable elderly more comfortable.
Mary said that Gerry was thrilled with his new home off of Shandon Street on the northside of the city.
Mary said that she would be forever grateful for the kindness shown to her and her brother after the shocking incident.
“People were very good. We are not too bad. We are getting over it. I still can’t believe it happened. Gerry was in hospital for six weeks.”
Mary, who looks after her brother and a sister, previously told Virgin Media News she could never have imagined the callous treatment that was meted out to them by the burglar.
"We were both terrified - I was shocked but it was my brother I was worried about," Mary said.
"What could we do? We couldn't do anything else (except hand over their savings) because I thought he was going to stab us both. It was very scary."
She said she was "overwhelmed" by the response of the public with a GoFundMe page set up by paramedics who treated the pair raising over €23,000 in less than a day for the impacted brother and sister.
Mary was visited by Paul Byrne and the Virgin Media News crew again today under happier circumstances. Some volunteers from SHARE were also in the house and the O’Halloran’s enjoyed meeting up with journalists under better circumstances.
Meanwhile, gardaí are still appealing for information in a bid to trace the culprit. They are eager to speak with anyone who was in the vicinity of Boyce’s Street or neighbouring streets between 6:30am and 9am on February 13 who may have witnessed anything to come forward.
They are also appealing to road users with dash-cam footage from the Gurranabraher area between those times, to make it available to them.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Gurranabraher Garda Station on (021) 4946200, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.