A woman has told how she begged thieves not to steal money that had been saved for their dying 86-year-old mother's funeral.
The family of dementia sufferer Margaret Kavanagh have appealed for the return of cash and sentimental jewellery taken when the men raided her house in the Westrock Gardens area of west Belfast just before midnight on Wednesday.
Two men wearing medical masks and armed with knives forced their way into the pensioner’s bungalow.
They threatened to kill Mrs Kavanagh and her daughters, Bernadette (62) and Lorraine (57), who care for her.
Speaking to the Andersonstown News, Bernadette told how the thieves held a knife to her throat and also threatened her sister.
“We got pushed into the hall, trailed about by our hair and beat about. Our hairs were pulled out and my head was put through a radiator cover,” she said.
“They took Lorraine into the back room and put a scalpel at her throat. The other one put a knife to my throat.
“My mummy has Alzheimer’s — my mummy is dying — and she was lying in that front room while this was happening. All they wanted was tablets and money.”
The robbers made off with items including jewellery belonging to Bernadette’s late husband, and cash that the family had saved for Mrs Kavanagh’s funeral costs. Bernadette told the Andersonstown News: “They said they were going to kill us if we didn’t give them money.
“My sister said there was money in her handbag.
“I said ‘please my mummy is dying’ and he said ‘if you don’t give me the f****** money she’ll be dead.” That’s when they got the safe – I told them where it was.”
Bernadette said her mum is in bed 24/7 and her illness means she was unaware what was happening. She added: “Mummy can’t talk or anything, she doesn’t know anything, and we’ve to feed her.
“She’s in bed 24/7. Dementia is terrible, but last night I was glad she had it — God forgive me for saying it. If she knew what was happening it would have killed her.”
PSNI detective Sergeant Sam McCallum said: “This was a terrifying ordeal for the victims.
“Two of them suffered minor injuries during the incident
“The two males are described as being in their mid-20s, both wearing light blue jackets, grey bottoms and medical masks and gloves.”
People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll said the community had been left very angry by what had happened.
“It’s absolutely abhorrent that an elderly woman of 86 years of age can be attacked in her home in such a brutal and callous way with the use of a knife,” Mr Carroll added.
Anyone with information should contact detectives in Belfast, quoting reference number 1850 of June 10.