A TEENAGE girl and her friend were subjected to a terrifying knifepoint robbery as they walked to the train station in Portlaoise at the weekend.
The frightening ordeal shocked the teenagers and their families, who are appealing for information that could track down the two culprits, who are men aged in their 50s and 20s.
The girl’s mother said: “We all think this will never happen to us. We want to make sure everyone is aware of these two men. Someone might know of them and might be willing to share information with the guards.”
Gardaí are also appealing for public assistance following what they describe as a “very serious incident” that happened at about 6.30pm on Saturday.
Abbey Vaughan (17) went for something to eat with a friend after work and then headed for the next train home from Portlaoise. On the way, she met a 17-year-old male friend who offered to walk with her to the station.
Abbey’s mother Samantha Prendergast Vaughan said: “Thank God in many ways for Abbey that this friend offered to walk her to the train station, otherwise she would have been on her own when this happened.”
The two young friends walked from Main Street along Church Avenue, past the old Shaw’s store and had just reached Millbrook when they were approached by two men, who appeared to be a father and son.
They were terrified when the men suddenly shone a bright light or torch into their faces. The younger man, aged in his 20s, produced a knife, which he brandished at Abbey’s friend.
The older man warned Abbey not to look at what he was doing but said that, if she lied about having a phone and money, both she and her friend would be stabbed. He ordered her to hand over her phone, but then said he didn’t want it as it was an iPhone.
The men took her friend’s Samsung phone and then demanded money, again warning the teenagers that if they lied about whether they had cash, they would both be knifed.
Abbey handed over her hard-earned wages, which she had just received that evening, as well as money she had in her purse. The men grabbed the cash and fled the scene, leaving the two teenagers shocked and badly shaken.
Abbey immediately phoned the gardaí, who arrived from Portlaoise Garda Station within minutes and drove her to the train station to be collected after taking details of what had happened.
In a post on her Facebook page on Sunday, Abbey’s very upset mother Samantha appealed to anyone who could help catch the two men involved. She said: “I am putting this status up to make sure everyone is aware of these two men. A lot of you who live in Portlaoise might know of them and might be willing to share information with the guards.”
Sgt Graham Kavanagh of the Laois-Offaly division confirmed that gardaí are investigating the robbery, in which a Samsung mobile phone and money were stolen. He said: “The culprits are described as aged in their 50s and 20s. The incident happened at about 6.30pm at Millbrook, which is close to Main Street. Any persons with information regarding this very serious incident can contact Portlaoise Garda Station on 057 8674100.”
Gardaí are also appealing for information from anyone who was in the Millbrook/Church Street/Church Avenue area between 6pm and 6.30pm last Saturday, if they saw the two men or anything suspicious that could help the investigation.