Four men have appeared in court in Ennis charged with burglary at the home of an elderly man outside the Co Clare town yesterday.

Three alleged burglars fled from the farmhouse at Ballyveskil, Tiermaclane, when they discovered the man, who is in his 90s, asleep in the house.

Inspector Kieran Ruane said it will be the State case that the alleged burglary at around 3.30pm yesterday afternoon was planned.

Insp Ruane said it will be alleged that one member of the group, John Woodland, lured Vincent O’Connor away from his home to a nearby field on the pretence of buying silage.

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In evidence, Detective Garda Gary Stack said that John Woodland (38) had first contacted Mr O’Connor about purchasing silage at the start of December.

Gardaí said that while John Woodland was speaking to Mr O'Connor, Patrick Woodland (43) and Edward Woodland (18), both of Greenmount Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston, Limerick, and Paul Kiely (30), of Glencairn, Dooradadoyle, Limerick, forcibly entered the farmhouse.

However, when the three came across Vincent O’Connor’s elderly father, they fled the home.

Detective Garda Brendan Rouine told the court in evidence that the man’s sleep was undisturbed.

Insp Ruane said that the elderly man was not confronted by any of the accused.

Det Garda Stack said that the three were caught by gardaí after a short foot chase in a nearby field. Gardaí also apprehended John Woodland, of Clarina Avenue, Ballinacurra Avenue, Limerick.

Det Garda Stack said that as part of the investigation, gardaí seized a number of mobile phones and he said they are confident that traffic on the phones will show that the operation was planned.

Detective Garda Damien O’Connor said that there was a garda surveillance operation in the area at the time.

Gardaí opposed bail for all four based on the strength of the evidence and the nature of the offence.

Judge Mary Larkin refused bail to brothers Patrick and John Woodland and remanded Edward Woodland, son of Patrick Woodland, and Paul Kiely in custody with consent to bail.

All four are due to appear before Ennis District Court again on Wednesday 10 January.