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Screwdriver-wielding gang leave elderly couple shaken in robbery

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 24/10/2015

A man in his 90s was treated for shock after a masked gang armed with a screwdriver and a poker forced their way into his home.

The terrifying burglary took place in the Boleran Road area of Garvagh, Co Londonderry, on Thursday night.

A woman aged in her 70s was in the property at the time and was also left shaken.

Police said four men dressed in black and wearing masks entered the house at around 8pm.

Two of the intruders, reportedly armed with a screwdriver and a poker, held the couple in the kitchen while the rest of the house was ransacked.

The men left a short time later. It is not clear if anything was stolen.

The elderly couple were not physically injured but were treated by ambulance staff for shock.

East Londonderry MLA Adrian McQuillan said the incident was "barbaric".

"I totally condemn those responsible for this barbaric act of burglary and appeal to anyone with information to bring it forward to the PSNI," he said.

"Those responsible should feel the full weight of the law. We therefore must see those responsible brought before the courts.

"Such incidents are all too common, especially at this time of the year.

"I am therefore calling on the PSNI to step up patrols as well as local residents to look out for their elderly and vulnerable neighbours."

Mr McQuillan said tougher action was needed against people who target the elderly.

"I do believe that we need the Justice Minister to act in ensuring that sentences for burglary are lengthened and that he takes a tougher approach to offenders in this respect as a means of a deterrent as well as ensuring a sense of justice," Mr McQuillan said.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident, a young woman was assaulted in a bedroom after four masked men ransacked a house in Belfast.

The gang are believed to have been armed with baseball bats and a gun.

The incident occurred around 9.30pm on Thursday night.

The men forced their way into the property in Greenland Street in north Belfast.

They made their way upstairs and assaulted the female (24) in a bedroom.

A 25-year-old male who had also been in the house managed to escape through a rear window.

The men ransacked the ground floor, causing extensive damage, before leaving.

Detective Sergeant Andrew Hamlin said: "We believe that at least one of these men may have been in possession of a handgun, the others were armed with baseball bats.

"We are keen to hear from anyone with information or anyone who witnessed these males in the area on Thursday night.

"We would especially like to speak to anyone who can help us identify a dark coloured Volkswagen saloon type vehicle that was reported to be in the area at the time."

TUV councillor Jolene Bunting said she was deeply concerned by the incident.

"The thugs responsible for this need to be brought to justice," she said.

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