Friday 13 December 2019

Derry pensioner (72) who struggled with burglar died of heart attack – police

Deric Henderson

A PENSIONER collapsed and died of a heart attack after struggling with a burglar demanding money, police revealed tonight.

Bertie Acheson, 72, was found dead at his home in Coleraine, Co Derry, where his ailing wife was then forced to hand over her purse with £375 before the man fled.

Mr Acheson had bruises and cuts to his lips and neck, some of which were consistent with an assault in the kitchen of his bungalow where he confronted the intruder who broke in by smashing a bedroom window.

There was some sort of altercation and detectives believe the heart attack was precipitated by the emotional stress Mr Acheson was under when he was challenged by the thug who shouted: "Give me money, give me money."

The cause of death was confirmed by a post mortem examination.

Even though police suspect the man might not have intended to harm Mr Acheson they are treating the death as murder. They believe the man who escaped as well with store and bank cards belonging to Mr Acheson's wife Sheila, 70, lives locally.

The cards were in a red purse which he grabbed when he confronted her in a bedroom as her husband lay dying on the kitchen floor of the house at Glenmore Gardens, close TO a row of shops in the town's Mountsandel district.

She suffers from severe arthritis. Mr Acheson, who once worked for Northern Ireland Electricity before becoming a part-time chimney sweep, was her main carer. They had been married for 44 years.

Detective Inspector Ian Harrison who is heading up the police investigation said: "A person's life has been lost for a pitiful amount of money."

Neighbours said today they were still coming to terms with the shock of Mr Acheson's death in the early hours of Monday morning. They said the couple were quiet and unassuming who kept to themselves.

Jack Meehan said: "He'll be sadly missed in this area by me especially. I'm very emotional about it and I hope the culprit is caught and punished."

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