THE FAMILY of an Irish pensioner who was left for dead after a vicious assault in South Yorkshire have released heart-breaking images of their father lying beaten and unconscious in a hospital bed.
As police continue to appeal for witnesses to what they have described as a nasty attack on Tom- my Ward, his family are hoping the pictures will encourage anyone with information to come forward.
“They’re heartless, they left him for dead,” daughter Jackie Perry said. “They went out of the house, closed that door behind them and left him like that.”
The 80-year-old, whose mother was originally from Connemara, was left with a fractured skull and a broken jaw.
He also suffered broken ribs and his index finger was snapped in the attack.
Two weeks on from the assault and after undergoing a six-hour operation, Mr Ward has not fully regained consciousness and remains in a serious condition in hospital.
When thieves broke into the pensioner’s home on October 1 they also allegedly made off with a safe containing his life savings of £30,000.
Two 19-year-old men remain on police bail in connection with the incident.
Mrs Perry said: “We just can’t imagine what he’s gone through. For the sake of money, they’ve taken everything away from him, it’s not just the money, money’s nothing, it’s his freedom, he’ll never be the same again.”
Mr Ward, a father of four, grandfather of 12 and great-grandfather of 15, was described as a “character” by his family who have remained connected to their Irish roots and make an annual trip to Ireland.
As he lies in hospital, the Ward family have played Irish music to him.
His son Sean added: “How could they do something to someone that frail, you’d just tap him with his finger and he’d lose his balance, there’s no need to go to that length.”
Mr Ward was growing increasingly frail in recent years. His family had urged him to move out of the Salisbury Road home he bought with his late wife Dorothy more than 30 years ago.
Despite the pleas to move to sheltered accommodation, Mr Ward was adamant that he wanted to stay in his own home.
But now the attack has “robbed him of that choice”, his daughter has said. “He can’t go back now – it would be terrifying for him.”
Mr Ward is very in touch with his Irish roots – described as having a love for the country. He listens to Irish music and plays the Irish lottery regularly.
A former solider, Mr Ward worked in Maltby Colliery - a coal mine - in the 1980s before he retired.
Jim Dunphy was one of the many Irishmen who worked in the mining industry in South Yorkshire.
He remembers Mr Ward’s reputation from his days working in Maltby Colliers.
“Tommy would have been a few years older than me but I do know he was a very popular chap down the Colliery,” he told The Irish Post.
While the Ward family come to terms with what has happened kind-hearted people have begun to raise money in an effort to replace the pensioner’s life savings.
An online appeal for donations has raised more than £27,000.
South Yorkshire police continue to search for the safe (pictured below) which has been missing since the attack.
"We are yet to locate the safe that we believe was taken from the man’s home when he was assaulted," Detective Inspector Richard Partridge said.
Appealing to the public for their assistance, DI Partridge added: "I’d urge everyone living in the local area to cast their minds back to last week – Salisbury Road is often quite busy, with buses and cars passing through – and consider whether there was anything out of the ordinary or anything suspicious."
Two 19-year-old men, from the local area, are currently on police bail after being arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and burglary.
A 23-year-old man was also arrested on October 4 on suspicion of attempted murder but was released with no further action.