‘He tried to drive over me’: Farmer’s son who shot intruder tells his story

A farmer’s son who shot and injured a thief outside his father’s farmhouse in north Co. Dublin in 2012 told his story of what happened on the night in question on radio this week.

Speaking on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio 1, lorry driver Graham Lowndes explained that the incident happened at the home of his father, a “country gent” who was 78 and living alone in a remote, rural area.

Setting the scene, Lowndes said that one evening in April 2012, he drove to his father’s house and, upon entering the house, encountered a major shock.

‘Totally trashed’

“The first room in the house is a small office where all the farm business is and it was totally trashed. I quickly went through the rest of the house to see that everything had been turned over,” he said.

Thankfully, Lowndes’ father was not in the house at the time of the break-in. After ensuring that his father was safe and phoning the Gardai, Lowndes armed himself with one of his father’s guns, and loaded it.

He then went outside and noticed tyre marks left by a car in a field beside the house and followed them. As Lowndes had parked his lorry at the entrance, he had inadvertently blocked the burglar into the yard so the criminal had attempted to take off through the fields.

“When I got down the field I saw the car, so I phoned the Gardai again to tell them that I’d found a car and that I think it was the person involved in the burglary. I got a very good look; as I approached the car, I could see he was stuck and he was trying to drive the car.

He screamed a few profanities at me; he said he was going to ‘effing’ kill me. He tried to drive over me with the car but it got stuck.

Lowndes said he asked him to get out of the car, which the intruder did.

“I was telling him to get down on the ground; I told him I’d rang the Gardai and to get down on the ground to wait until the Gardai came,” he said.

Altercation

However, instead of doing this, the man stood up to Lowndes and said it had ‘nothing to do with him’ and tried to leave the scene.

He said that he tried to stop him, hit him a thump and he continued to go. There was a further altercation and a shot was fired.

The intruder did not attempt to take the gun off Lowndes, but he had a jacket over his arm – which Lowndes believed was a concealed weapon and felt threatened.

At the time, Lowndes did not realize he’d shot the intruder as the man ran off, got into a different car and left the scene.

Lowndes informed the Gardai what had happened. It later transpired that the thief had stolen €200 in cash and two watches as well as ransacking the house.

The man in question was discovered by Gardai after arriving at Drogheda Hospital with a gunshot wound. He had 70 previous convictions and was out on bail at the time of the robbery, which was the third such crime that day, according to Lowndes.

Lowndes explained that it later emerged that the intruder had called to his father’s door earlier on the same day, under the pretence of his van breaking down.

Aftermath

A couple of months later, Lowndes was charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm and possession of a firearm without a certificate – because it was his father’s gun and he didn’t have a licence.

The DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) eventually dropped the unlawful discharge aspect if he pleaded guilty to the latter charge – which he agreed to do, avoiding a criminal conviction through the Probation Act.

The intruder pleaded guilty to the three burglaries after he recovered and was given a six-year sentence, with four suspended.

He later unsuccessfully sought compensation through the Personal Injuries Board and can currently take a case against Lowndes, should he wish to do so, Lowndes said.

Lowndes said that his father had “turned his house into a fortress”, with CCTV and upgraded locks, after the incident and totally changed his way of life.