'Revulsion' in Clare as pensioner cycles 30 miles to escape intruders

(From left) Noel Garry, Shane Donnellan and Joseph Lernihan

A Co Clare community felt "revulsion" at the ordeal of an elderly man who cycled 30 miles in the middle of the night to escape intruders at his home.

Michael McMahon, 68, was living alone outside the village of Cooraclare when he was targeted twice in four nights in February 2012.

On the second occasion, the thieves told him he was to withdraw money from the bank and that they would be back again.

Their elderly victim was so afraid that he left his home and cycled for eight hours and 30 miles to Ennis, where he checked into a nursing home. He has not returned home since.

Three men pleaded guilty to robbing Mr McMahon at Ennis Circuit Court yesterday.

Local county councillor Bill Chambers said: "There was a sense of revulsion that a decent, honest, good-living man…was driven out of his home.

He said he imagined Michael would have been "really traumatised...He had an awfully lonely road to go, all the way to Ennis."

He said Michael is a very quiet man, whose main interests were working and sport.

Joseph Lernihan, aged 21, of Finnanon Park, Mullagh, pleaded guilty to robbing Mr McMahon at Cree, on Feb 21 and 25, 2012. Shane Donnellan, aged 20, Clohanbeg, Cree, Kilrush, and Noel Garry, aged 20, of Tullycrine, Kilrush, pleaded guilty to the robbery of Mr McMahon on Feb 25, 2012.

Lernihan received €410 and €1,400 from the two robberies. He told gardaí: “I shouldn’t have gone near it.”

In a statement to gardaí, Donnellan said: “I’m so sorry about what I put that man through and I will pay back the money.”

Judge Carroll Moran adjourned sentencing to Ennis Circuit Court to Mar 3, remanding Garry in continuing custody and remanding Lernihan and Donnellan on continuing bail.

(Court reporting from Gordon Deegan)

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