Tiger kidnapping victim appeals to gang

Published Tuesday, 04 March 2014
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A man whose family was held to ransom during a tiger kidnapping have told UTV they have been left devastated.

Tiger kidnapping victim appeals to gang
Seamus Heaney's wife was forced to bring a bag of jewellry to the thieves. (© UTV)

Seamus Heaney, his wife and daughter were relaxing watching television at their home near Warrenpoint in Co Down on Sunday night when a four strong gang burst in.

"They came into the living room, with balaclavas on, and told us to get on the floor right away and one was waving a gun around," Seamus recalled.

"And then they tied our hands behind our backs on the floor."

He said all three were "totally terrified."

"They pointed the gun at me and said: 'Now you know what this is for. We just want you to do exactly what we say 'cause if not we'll shoot your daughter in the leg.'"

Seamus told UTV Live Tonight that he followed their instructions, giving them whatever they wanted, in order to keep himself, his wife Hilda, a jeweller, and daughter Stephanie safe.

"I was just in shock at the start. Then suddenly [I] kicked into gear and realised that this was serious."

When somebody has a gun they mean to use it - that's the way I looked at it.

Seamus Heaney, tiger kidnapping survivor

"They wanted whatever money or jewellry that was in the house."

Hilda was ordered to go in her own car to the family's jewellry shop and fill a bag with "jewellry, diamonds and gold from the safe" and then, meet the gang at a certain destination.

Seamus and Stephanie were bundled into the back of his car, covered in blankets, and driven around country back roads until his wife was ready to meet them.

When she arrived, her husband and daughter were transferred into her car and dumped in a field in the Mayobridge area.

A car later found burnt out in the village of Burren is being linked to the incident.

Speaking about being released unharmed, he said that they were "standing there [alive] not hurt, badly, badly shook up but relieved they were gone."

Aside from the terrifying ordeal the Heaneys were subjected to, Seamus has been left devastated at the theft of an All-Ireland medal belonging to his late father.

His father Jimmy was part of the first Down team in 1946 to win the All-Ireland Junior Final.

The prized possession was among other items of sentimental value the gang took from his home.

"I asked them to leave it because it was a family heirloom that I had offered to look after and keep safe in the house."

One of the raiders said that he would, but he didn't - and the family desperately want it returned.

Seamus has been left "totally gutted" by the theft, describing the medal as "irreplaceable."

"Dedication and work, training, all went into earning this medal back in those days and it was the first All-Ireland medal to be taken back to the north for that team."

He is hoping that those responsible show some compassion and return the medal.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police immediately at Ardmore Police Station or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

© UTV News
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