Ballybough heroes honoured after fighting off home intruder

by Dublin Gazette
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Two men who fended off an intruder at a family home in Ballybough in 2016 were honoured at the National Bravery Awards last Friday for their courageous act.

On January 8 2016, 73-year-old Michael Hempenstall was returning to his family home on Clonliffe Avenue with his shopping. As he approached his front door, he noticed that it was slightly open, and when he entered the hall, a man ran toward him, grabbed him and forcefully pulled him into the sitting room.

The attacker then said there were others in the house in an attempt to intimidate Hempenstall, who tried to make an effort to escape. Whilst still being assaulted by the intruder, Hempenstall pushed open a window and called for help.

His neighbour, Aonghus O’Briain, heard Hempenstall calling out for help and responded. O’Briain entered the house through the front door, and saw the intruder assaulting his neighbour, and without hesitation, confronted the intruder.

During the kerfuffle, the intruder broke a glass panel in the door and cut open his hand, with O’Briain overpowering him and holding him in a headlock

Another neighbour also responded to Hempenstall’s call for help, and entered the home to help O’Briain restrain the attacker. A third neighbour then entered the home and called the Gardai. Hempenstall was also instrumental in containing the intruder.

The intruder was subsequently arrested and is currently serving his sentence in Mountjoy Prison.

Hempenstall and O’Briain both received a Certificate of Bravery at the ceremony last Friday as a mark of respect for the courage shown by the pair.

The Bravery awards were set up in 1947 to recognise those who risked their lives to save others and are administered by Comhairle Na Míre Gaile, the Deeds of Bravery Council.

The ceremony saw 20 people receive Bravery awards, including one posthumous honour.

The Ceann Comhairle said: “The National Bravery Awards give us an opportunity to celebrate the courage of our emergency services and people who risk their own safety to protect their fellow citizens.

“It is important to recognise the sacrifices made by people whose selflessness can serve to remind us of our duty of care to one another. It is an honour to present these 20 Bravery Awards today, including the posthumous award, and I thank all recipients for their courage.”

The Deeds of Bravery Council includes the Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, the Lord Mayors of Dublin and Cork, the Garda Commissioner, the President of the Association of City & County Councils and the Chair of the Irish Red Cross.

The Council may award Gold, Silver or Bronze medals as well as Certificates of Bravery.

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