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Sligo attack: Family of victim Thomas Niland says assault was 'brutal and savage'

Thomas Niland is still in a "very critical condition" following the attack last month.
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

14.18 8 Feb 2022


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Sligo attack: Family of victim...

Sligo attack: Family of victim Thomas Niland says assault was 'brutal and savage'

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

14.18 8 Feb 2022


Share this article


The attack on Thomas Niland in County Sligo has been described as 'brutal and savage' by his family.

The 73-year-old remains very critically ill in hospital, after being assaulted by three masked men during an aggravated burglary at his home in Skreen on January 18th.

Thomas managed to crawl from his home and alert passing motorists following the attack.

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He's now on life support at Sligo University Hospital, with gardaĆ­ saying his "condition has deteriorated significantly" since he was first taken to hospital.

Locals are concerned that those responsible remain at large, and say there is now a real sense of fear and terror in the community

Speaking on Lunchtime Live, Thomas' cousin Michael Walsh says his condition hasn't improved and they fear the worst.

He said: "When we did get to see him, he was unrecognisable. His head was nearly twice the size as normal... [he was] beaten to a pulp.

"It was something you wouldn't want to see in your lifetime. It was absolutely shocking to think any human could do that to somebody else."

He said Thomas was in his house on his own when his attackers arrived.

Thomas is still in a "very critical condition", with Michael saying "it's very difficult to say what the outcome is going to be".

He said: "We fear it's going to be the worst... we don't even want to think about it. He still hasn't improved... there are still a lot of tests being done.

"It's very difficult with such head injuries... they cannot operate or do anything like that."

"He was always helping people"

Michael described Thomas as someone who is "so obliging" and "would do anything for you".

He said: "Even at 73, you would see him going to help older people... trim their hedges and do various things for them.

"He didn't retire fully - he was always helping people. [Retirement] just gave him more time to help other people."

Thomas has been able to give a description of his attackers, saying three large men wearing balaclavas arrived at his door.

Michael said: "Skreen is a rural area... it's on the main route between Ballina and Sligo. There was a lot of traffic passing that evening.

"These people drove in, backed into his doorway, and escaped. Somebody must have seen something.

"A lot of people have come forward... and given dashcam footage. Some houses had cameras... that would reach out to the road and maybe pick up some details of cars around that time.

"[GardaĆ­] still want more... they are appealing for people to come forward. No matter how small it is, come forward with the information."

Anyone with information can contact Sligo Garda Station on 071 915 7000, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda station.

Main image: Picture by Andy Gibson / Alamy Stock Photo

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