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Burglar is blasted by shotgun as owner stops factory raid

A burglar shot by a businessman whose van and tools were being robbed by a gang, was discharged from hospital last night and taken into garda custody.

Two other suspects were also being questioned by gardai after they were arrested within hours of the theft.

The stolen vehicle and property were recovered by gardai following an operation involving officers from four districts, backed up by the air support unit.

Furniture manufacturer Gerry Kennedy was with his wife and children yesterday morning in their home at Kilmoyle, Killoe, a rural area about four miles from Longford town on the Edgeworthstown Road.

He heard noises at around 6.30am and spotted a gang of thieves near his factory, which adjoins the house.

Mr Kennedy grabbed his legally held shotgun and ran outside to challenge the thugs.

He became concerned for his safety during a tense confrontation with the burglars and as two of the gang jumped into a car, he fired one shot in their direction.

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The front-seat passenger was hit by shotgun pellets in the upper back and the car crashed.

Gardai said the driver of the car made his escape on foot but shortly after officers arrived at the scene they carried out a search of the immediate area and located the suspect nearby.

Meanwhile, the third member of the gang had sped off in one of Mr Kennedy's vans, which contained a haul of tools used in the manufacture of furniture in his business premises.

Officers from Granard, Longford, Ballymahon and Roscommon were joined by the force's air support unit as they hunted the thief on the run.

Around 10am, garda units spotted the van on the N4 Dublin to Sligo road and intercepted it. The driver of the van was arrested and all of the stolen property was recovered.

The injured burglar, who is in his 20s, was taken by ambulance to Mullingar Regional Hospital, where he underwent treatment for flesh wounds to his back.

The two arrested men were taken to Longford garda station for questioning under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, which allowed officers to hold them without charge for up to 24 hours.

The injured suspect was taken later to Roscommon station for questioning. The three men are all Travellers based in Blanchardstown, west Dublin.

Garda technical experts carried out a detailed examination of the scene while the van and car were taken away for forensic checks.

Mr Kennedy originally set up his furniture and kitchen manufacturing company at the rear of his home but this has since expanded into a factory.

Gardai said that Mr Kennedy had been shocked by the incident but that he and his family were recovering last night.

Meanwhile, an investigation headquarters has been set up at Edgeworthstown station and officers have appealed to anyone who spotted men acting suspiciously in the Kilmoyle area between 4.30am and 7.30am yesterday to contact them at 043 6671002 or on the confidential line, 1800 666 111.

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