Belfast Telegraph

Spate of burglaries within 20-mile radius strikes fear into rural community

By Chris Kipatrick

A spate of robberies carried out by masked men at homes within a 20-mile radius in the past year struck fear in the rural community.

The attack on 84-year-old Trevor Derby is understood to be the fifth violent gang robbery in the area in 2014.

Police said they were investigating whether the latest incident is linked to those which happened earlier this year.

In May a man in his 70s was hit with a hammer during a terrifying two-hour ordeal in his home.

In January there were three such attacks within a week.

Five masked men tied up a man and woman at a house in Banbridge, striking him in the head with a handgun.

Days earlier five men, one armed with a screwdriver, forced their way into the Ballynahinch property of 76-year-old Patsy Boyle and his wife Bridget (80).

A short time later, a gang matching the same description struck less than nine miles away.

A 76-year-old woman and a 75-year-old man in the Drumgooland Road area of Castlewellan were the victims.

A police spokesman said the investigation into Wednesday's incident was at an early stage and all lines of inquiry remain open.

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