An elderly man attacked in his Co Down home shortly after returning from a church prayer meeting remains in hospital for face and head injuries.
The man, 69-year-old Clifford Mooney, was was tied up and assaulted by two or three robbers who entered his Slieveshan Park home in Kilkeel around midnight on Tuesday.
He was struck on the head, tied up and gagged before his assailants ransacked the house. His nephew, Adrian Eakins, described Clifford as “a lovely wee man who’s never been in a fight before in his life.”
Adrian told the News Letter: “They gagged him so that he couldn’t call for help. They hit him in the head with a weapon, they punched him in the face, the stomach, the ribs, everything. This is a man of 69-years-of-age.
“He’s never even fell out with anyone in his life. He thought it was his nephews, us, at the bottom of the bed at the time. He’d be quite religious. He was just back from a church meeting when it happened.
“He lives right across the road from the police station - this happened 50 yards from the station.
“They took the Bible off him. They went through the jacket to see what was in it and they took his wallet. He gets a pension of a Monday and on Tuesday they took the money off him. They tried to get every penny he had.
“He told them to take whatever they wanted but they still done this to him. Words couldn’t describe. They are scum of the earth, they really are.”
Police say the robbers remained on the property for around 30 minutes before leaving and the victim managed to free himself and raise the alarm.
A sum of money was stolen and police are appealing for anyone who noticed any suspicious activity in the area to ring the PSNI on 101.
Councillor Henry Reilly said the victim has mobility problems and was an easy target.
“I have been speaking to some of his relatives and they are absolutely livid that this man was targeted,” Mr Reilly said.
“He came home from a prayer meeting at a church and was actually in bed whenever this gang got into the house. They put a pillow case over his head and gave him a bad time.”
Mr Reilly said everyone should be alert to suspicious behaviour around their neighbours’ properties.
“There was a gang about three months ago that did a series of hits from Bessbrook right through into south Down, and there is a concern that it could be the same crowd starting to get active again. I would call for people to be very vigilant and if they suspect anything at all to ring the police on 101, or if they are concerned for their personal safety to ring 999.”
South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said the entire community had been shocked by the attack which was “out of character” for the area and also called for anyone with information to contact police.