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Eviction

Galway surgeon speaks of terror after landlord lunged at him with circular saw

The landlord was attempting to saw through the door with the charged power tool, claiming he was owed rent money.

A SURGICAL DOCTOR living in Galway has spoken out about a terrifying incident where his landlord lunged at him with a circular saw during an attempt to break in the front door of his rented apartment. 

The incident, which Dr Muhammed Raheel – who is from Pakistan – caught on video, occurred at 1.30pm yesterday. 

The doctor said that if his wife had not pulled him back in the moment when the landlord lunged towards him, into the hallway of the house, with a charged power tool, “anything could have happened”. 

Dr Raheel says he is dissatisfied with how gardaí initially handled the incident, despite them having helped to de-escalate a previous situation with the same landlord last month. 

He claimed the gardaí who visited his home yesterday after the incident with the circular saw told him that it was a “civil matter”.  

“The system did not protect me yesterday, I have been up all night with my wife and our one- and three-year-old daughters, awake with worry that he would return with another weapon,” Dr Raheel said. 

Screen Shot 2023-04-18 at 17.13.58 The landlord started cutting through the door near the handle once Dr Raheel closed the door.

At the start of the video, the landlord claims he is owed rent money, telling Dr Raheel: “I’m going to cut the door down. I have been to the guards, they told me to ask you about the money, if you refuse, they will be coming.” 

In reply, Dr Raheel can be heard telling him to call the gardaí. 

The landlord proceeded to tell the surgeon that he may be “going to Muhammad”.

“No matter where you go in this life I will follow you after today,” he states. 

The landlord then tries to make a call, but a voice message informs him that his balance is too low to do so. As the landlord proceeds to cut through the door he says: “If I have to spend the rest of my life in jail I don’t care, I don’t care.” 

Dr Raheel, beginning to panic, asks the landlord to “stay back” saying, “you cannot do this, please”. 

Rent dispute

Speaking after the incident, the Ballinasloe hospital surgeon explained that a rent disagreement evolved with the landlord after his online rent transactions began bouncing last August, and he could not contact his landlord to ask why this was occurring. 

“I kept trying every month and put the money aside so I would have it there when he got in touch. 

“I didn’t hear from him for months. Then, on 28 March, when my wife called me from home and said I had to come right away, because someone was drilling outside and was breaking into the house, and she was with our children. 

“I was in the middle of the operating room and I had to apologise and leave. When I got home, there was a locksmith at the door who claimed that he was told no one was living there and the locks needed changed. 

My wife was traumatised – she had put out children out of a window at the back of the house to try and keep them safe. 

“The landlord arrived at the house shortly after and was shouting “where is my rent?”. I told him that I had been trying to send it and had proof of this, but payments would not go through.

“He gave me some explanation about switching bank accounts. He proceeded to racially abuse me. The Gardaí that came on that day were very good, they spoke to us separately and de-escalated the situation,” Dr Raheel said. 

He claimed that the landlord told him he wanted him out, but no formal notice period was given.

Dr Raheel further stated that he then engaged a solicitor, who advised him not to pay the rent at that moment without looking at the situation further. Dr Raheel says he paid the rent for the month of April to a different account after having email contact with the landlord’s family, and that he has arrangements in place to pay the rest of the money and to find somewhere new to live as soon as possible. 

Garda response

The surgeon said that the “painful thing” about the events that unfolded yesterday was the initial approach of the Gardaí. 

“They asked if I was in a specific apartment when I called, and I said yes, and they said “you owe him money”. I was calling for help because I believe that he intended to cut my throat open and that was the response I got. 

“They came to the house and asked me questions about when I was going to pay the outstanding amount, and then spoke with the landlord and left. They never came back, there was no more communication from that visit.

“I went to station and got little response, and I could not get them to look at the video. I felt like my family and I were offered no protection, and we were deeply worried he would come back,” Dr Raheel said. 

A spokesperson for the Gardaí said that while they cannot comment on material circulated on social media, they are “aware of a video in circulation online and can confirm that personal contact has been made with a private citizen”.

“Enquiries are ongoing at this time,” they continued. “Any person who believes they have been mistreated by any member of An Garda Síochána is entitled to make a complaint to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.”

Accommodation concerns

Dr Liqa Ur Rehman, of the Association of Irish Pakistani Physicians and Surgeons, who is a close friend of Dr Raheel, said that he was shocked when he heard what happened. 

He was the one who posted a video snippet of the incident online to garner support from the migrant healthcare worker community, and to get the Gardaí to take action. 

“Raheel sent me the video and I got scared – I thought something happened to him and his family. He has lived in this same apartment for over three years so I could not understand it,” he said. 

The paediatrician said that migrant doctors in Ireland face significant challenges, alongside many other groups, in finding somewhere to live in Ireland. 

“Many doctors are moved around every six months so it is difficult from that perspective. Seeing this kind of treatment happening could definitely deter migrant nurses from coming here, no one wants to be subjected to racial abuse,” he said. 

Dr Raheel said that today two senior officers called to his house and were very professional and “apologetic” and asked him about how he would want to proceed following the incident. 

“I don’t know what to do, because now I do not trust this system. I know that this man could be picked up, released within 24 hours, and then I will have to deal with him again. 

“My intention is to pay the rent to the new bank account that is outstanding, against my solicitor’s advice, so I can move on from this and get my family into a safer situation,” he said.  

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