We knew something bad had happened: Young mum tells how she came to aid of critically injured Pat (83)
A young mother has described how she found a badly-injured 83-year-old Co Tyrone woman crying out for help after she fell from an upstairs window as burglars ransacked her house.
Pensioner Pat Davidson is still fighting for her life, and has been put in an induced coma by doctors after suffering a fractured skull, spine and pelvis.
She was found in agony below an open upstairs window of her home in Aughnacloy at around 9pm on Tuesday by a neighbour who disturbed the four burglars as they ransacked the Sydney Street property.
Cody Morrison (21) said: "I had gone to the Chinese with a friend and I'd popped into my mummy's house across the road from Mrs Davidson's to get a few things because I was staying away for the night.
"I heard shouting, it sounded strange, but when I looked around I couldn't see anything.
"I carried on into the house, and came back out into the car, and we noticed a car there sitting with its lights on.
"I had a strange feeling about it, so I got my friend to take a drive into the estate, and when we came out we saw the car rallying on up the road.
"Two people walking past said they'd seen four men jumping over the wall into the car, so we knew something bad had happened.
"I looked round the house and saw a window had been jacked open, so I called out to see if anyone was there. We just heard the voice saying: 'I'm here'.
"She was very shaken. I went round to her and found her, she was very afraid.
"I just had to tell her we were there to help, and that we were calling for help.
"We haven't been in touch with the family, we just wanted to give them time to get their heads round what's happened. It's been very upsetting.
"I'm just so glad we found her, because if we hadn't heard her we'd have been away and she could have been left there in the freezing cold. It doesn't bear thinking about.
"The community has been very upset by what's happened."
Ms Morrison said those who attended a vigil last night felt afraid.
"It's a town where we've always left our doors open and things like that, but people are scared now. People who do things like this don't know just the sort of terrible damage they can do," she said.
The news comes as shocking figures revealed that more than 12 elderly people are victims of crime every day in Northern Ireland.
The latest statistics show that 4,500 people over the age of 65 were victims of crime last year.
Pensioners were targeted in burglaries, robberies and sexual attacks.
The most common offence was criminal damage with 1,239 incidents, followed by 1,033 thefts and 60 sexual offences.
Pensioners were the victims in 293 incidents involving violence with injury (including homicide), and 294 offences of theft from vehicles. The figures cover the 12-month period up to last November.
Linda Robinson, CEO of Age NI, said that more needed to be done to bring convictions against those who targeted elderly people.
"We need action now to ensure that older people can feel safe and secure in their communities, and as a result, remain connected within those communities," she said.
"Age NI believes that action needs to focus on improving clearance rates for crimes against older people.
"We need to send out a message loud and clear that those who target older people will be pursued and brought before the law.
"Currently, neither the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) nor the courts and tribunals service hold data on convictions where someone aged 60-plus has been the victim of a crime.
"A recent analysis by the Commissioner for Older People has indicated that PSNI clearance rates for crimes against those over the age of 60, at 9.09%, performed less well than clearance rates on similar crimes for those under the age of 60, at 17%.
"If we truly wish to create communities where older people can feel safe, secure and included, action on improving these clearance rates is needed."
A senior PSNI officer said that older people were disproportionately represented in the overall crime rate.
Superintendent Simon Walls said: "It's far from the case that age is a factor in all of those crimes.
"They may be older victims, but the age may at times be incidental to the crime.
"We run specific operations around older people and burglary in which we give a higher level of service to older people when they are victims of burglary, and that's specifically around the support they get.
"It's about older people and keeping them safe in their home."
Officers are treating the Aughnacloy incident as attempted murder, with the PSNI's Serious Crime Branch taking on the investigation.
The four suspects made off in a black coloured car in the direction of Moore Street in the border village.
Detectives are linking the raid on Mrs Davidson's home to three other burglaries in the general area on Tuesday night.
They believe the criminal gang could have travelled from the Republic, and colleagues from the Garda are assisting the investigation.
The other break-ins happened at Aghaloo Close in the village, Richmond Park in Ballygawley and McDowell Terrace in Seskinore.
SDLP Mid Ulster councillor Sharon McAleer said: "Those behind the burglary are a disgrace. This community is one that looks out for the elderly - and we are deeply upset that today an elderly woman is in hospital because of this burglary."