Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Paul Healy

Family of Sligo attack victim were about to turn off life support when they got surprising result

The family of Sligo attack victim Tom Niland have revealed they were preparing to turn off his life support machine — when they got a last-minute glimmer of hope.

Tragic farmer Tom (72) has been in a critical condition in hospital since last month — after taking a turn following a horrific aggravated burglary at his home in Skreen, Co Sligo.

And speaking exclusively to our sister paper The Star, Tom’s cousin Michael Walsh told how a recent final test for brain activity uncovered a surprising result — and now the family are hopeful that he could survive.

“It was coming to the stage where they thought that they were going to switch it off a couple of weeks ago and we were all prepared for it,” Michael said.

“They have to do three tests before they can turn off the machine legally.

“It’s to do with brain stems to see if there’s any activity there. They did two of them and it proved that there was no activity there, but the third one then was inconclusive.

“So they had to abandon that and they put him on some other medication and [now it’s emerged] that there’s definitely brain stem activity.”

Gardai at the home of a man in his 70s, in Skreen, Co. Sligo, who was badly beaten and hospitalised as a result (James Connolly)

The revelation has given Tom’s family a renewed hope that he might pull through after he was brutally attacked in his own home on the night of January 28.

But Michael says when he visits Tom there are no obvious signs of life — and he can only hope that his cousin, who he regarded as a brother, can hear him.

“There’s been very little with him,” Michael said.

“The ventilator is breathing for him. If you open his eyes a little there’s nothing there. There’s no response. It’s like he’s dead but the machine is doing all the breathing for him.

“There’s a glimmer of hope now that he could improve. Every day there’s a chance that something might happen.”

Doctors have told Michael that Tom’s left temporal lobe was seriously damaged after he was kicked in the head during the brutal attack in his home.

It’s now hoped that his brain will work to repair itself in the days ahead, and that someday soon, Tom may open his eyes again.

“So there is still hope. But we are a long way off anything serious happening you know,” Michael said.

“The most recent thing they did was because the tubes were going down his mouth, they couldn’t continue with that because it can cause sores and all sorts of problems.

“So they had to take him to surgery, take it out and then do a tracheotomy.

“That was a critical thing too because they thought he could possibly die during that process.

“But it worked out anyway and now he’s back in the ward. He’s hanging on.”

Michael has been hoping that he can be allowed into his uncle’s home, so that he can clean up the mess left by the burglars.

However, gardai have told him that the house remains a crime scene — as they continue to hunt for the burglary gang responsible for Tom’s attack.

On that front Michael says he’s not aware of any significant progress in the garda probe - but he remains hopeful.

Last month, Superintendent Mandy Gaynor called on anyone with information to come forward.

To keep up to date with the latest breaking news, sign up to the Irish Mirror newsletters here

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.