A Catholic priest was severely beaten with a hammer by thieves who broke into his Jonesborough, Newry, parochial home.

At 11.30pm on Wednesday Father Dermot Maloney, Parish Priest at St Patrick’s Church, Dromintee, discovered three youths in his office, at his home. They “smashed in the face with a hammer” breaking his teeth before locking him in the bathroom.

His attackers fled with his wallet and a small amount of cash.

The young priest escaped by climbing through the bathroom window. The Belfast Telegraph reports that Maloney was too distressed to comment.

Reacting to the news Sinn Fein MLA Megan Fearon said say had “visited Fr Maloney and he is extremely shaken by his ordeal. I am disgusted that people would target anyone in the community in this way.”

She added “I hope that Fr Maloney recovers from his physical injuries quickly and that he has the strength of mind to put this attack behind him.”

The Tyrone Times wrote about the young priest who had served as a young curate in Dungannon where he was known as the “chief fundraiser”. He is involved in the local community’s youth work and was chairman of the Dungannon Youth Resource Centre.