Less than a fortnight since a garda was killed in action, the brave garda was confronted at a filling station in Mountmellick early last Monday morning, February 4.
At about 3.30am the Gardaí were alerted of a reported break-in at the Mace Service Station on the Tullamore Road.
When the garda arrived he was met in the forecourt by a man in a black motorbike helmet and black clothing, wielding a sledghammer. He used it to hold the Garda at bay. Moments later two more men came out of the shop, one with a sledgehammer, the other with a nailbar.
When garda back up arrived the raiders took flight. They sped off in a grey Saab car and headed back into Mountmellick, where another squad car met them from Patrick Street. They then took a right turn up O’Moore Street and headed out the Tullamore road.
Travelling at high speed, the raiders turned off their headlights on and off in attempts to escape. In Killeigh, another squad car arrived from Tullamore, but the raiders managed to disappear.
The three men had caused havoc elsewhere earlier that night, in Bagnelstown in Carlow and Ballyraggett in Kilkenny, where they damaged a squad car before taking off across Laois, pursued by gardaí.
Gardaí believe they were using false number plates and an investigation has been launched.
Laois’ Chief Superintendent, John Scanlon appealed for witnesses.
“We are interested in anyone who saw anything,” he said.
He praised the quick response of the local gardaí acknowledging the danger they faced.
“Thankfully they were unharmed, but that is the life we lead,” he said.
It is believed nothing was taken from the filling station, owned by Hinch Plant Hire. The owner declined to comment.
The raid comes days after 95 garda stations across Ireland were closed in a cost saving measure, including those in Ballacolla and Ballinakill, and eight days after Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe was shot dead during a raid in Co Louth.
Anyone with information can contact Portlaoise Garda Station at 8674100 or Mountmellick at 8624140.
*See this week’s Leinster Express for more on garda station closures and Det Donohoe’s book of condolence.