Thursday 22 March 2018

£10,000 reward offered in bid to catch burglar who murdered pensioner in break-in

David Young

A £10,000 (€12,298) reward has been offered in a bid to catch a burglar who murdered a pensioner as he struggled to protect his disabled wife.

Bertie Acheson, 72, collapsed and died after confronting the intruder in his home in Coleraine, Co Derry.

A post-mortem examination found he had a heart attack.

Leaving him for dead, the burglar then snatched a purse containing £375 belonging to Mr Acheson's wife Sheila, 70, who was in the bedroom of the couple's Glenmore Gardens home. She suffers from severe arthritis and her husband was her primary carer.

Police are treating the pensioner's death in the early hours of Monday morning as murder.

Independent charity Crimestoppers has put up the reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the attacker.

Chairman of Crimestoppers' Northern Ireland committee Paul Leighton said: "This was a cowardly act carried out against two vulnerable people and has left a community badly shaken and extremely angry.

"The person who committed this crime should not be allowed to get away with it and must be brought to justice, so I am appealing for anyone with information to contact Crimestoppers anonymously.

"We don't want to know who you are, only what you know."

The suspect is described as being approximately 6ft, was wearing a dark top with a collar and thick cuffs, grey jogging bottoms and a coat covering his waist.

Mr Acheson's daughter, Sandra Creelman, has spoken of the family's devastation.

"This has been a nightmare," she said yesterday.

"A total and utter living nightmare. Our lives have just been ruined. It will never be the same again, never. Not for any of us."

Mrs Creelman added: "Mum will never be in her home again. She is terrified (of) going back.

"They stripped my mother of everything she held dear and loved her whole life. The person that did this has destroyed everything.

"Mum is coping as best she can. Sometimes she is numb, sometimes she cries. She is petrified. She won't go into a bedroom at night on her own. Somebody has to be with her. She is not sleeping."

Mr and Mrs Acheson had been married for 44 years.

Police believe the burglar lives locally and may have cut himself before fleeing.

Mrs Creelman added: "My dad was a good, good man. Whoever did this must have family of his own. He must know or he must think about how he would feel if it was his family that this happened to.

"How would he feel if somebody did that to his father? Look what you have done to us."

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