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Wednesday 25 April 2018

Murder of pensioner in 'burglary gone wrong' leaves elderly in fear as man arrested

Robert Flowerday
Robert Flowerday

Claire Williamson

Fears are rising for elderly people living on their own in rural areas following the murder of a "true gentleman" in his Co Antrim home in what may have been a "burglary gone wrong".

Robert Flowerday was found dead at his home in Mill Road, Crumlin, on Sunday evening.

Police have arrested a 33-year-old man on suspicion of murder.  He has been taken to Musgrave PSNI station

The 64-year-old was a retired school teacher who taught maths at Antrim Grammar School and had since been tutoring.

Mr Flowerday lived alone and was described as a "very nice gentleman" who was a "very central part of the local community". Police were called to the scene after concerns were raised by a member of the public.

When officers arrived they found his body inside.

The PSNI said Mr Flowerday was last seen alive when he left Dundrod Presbyterian Church on Sunday at 12.45pm on his bicycle. He was wearing a high visibility jacket.

Local reports suggest the death was the result of a "burglary gone wrong" which has stirred fears among residents.

It comes just days after an 83-year-old woman was left in a critical condition after she fell from an upstairs window during a break-in at her Aughnacloy home. It's believed she was trying to escape a gang of four intruders.

Ulster Unionist councillor Mervyn Rea had known Mr Flowerday for years and said his death had spread worry in the area, particularly among elderly people.

He said: "We hear of these things all the time. You only have to look at Aughnacloy and several places where it's people living on their own. They seem to be a target for these people.

"It will put fear into elderly people. It's a disgrace in this day and age that you can't live in the comfort of your own home safely without thugs going about.

"I would appeal to people if they saw anything at all in the vicinity to report it. The type of people who do this, they evidently have no conscience." He added: "Tensions have risen. And especially in the rural country areas where houses are isolated."

Fellow councillor Paul Michael said there was "shock and horror" at the murder.

He said the community was still reeling from a separate attack last week in which an elderly man had his hands left "black and blue fighting off an intruder" when he was robbed.

He said: "This is very much a worse situation where we are now dealing with a murder. People are in shock but they are also terrified to think that this has happened right in the heart of the community that thought so much of this man.

"We've all heard the story of the elderly woman who felt the only option was to jump from her bedroom window (in Aughnacloy), I don't think anyone is second-guessing how people are thinking here.

"Clearly some must have seen Mr Flowerday as easy pickings, so people are very much concerned for their own safety."

Detective Chief Inspector Alan Dickson said Serious Crime Branch have launched a murder enquiry.

He added: "I am appealing to anyone who may have seen Mr Flowerday between 12.45pm and 9.50pm on Sunday, January 28, to come forward and speak to police.

"I am particularly keen to speak with anyone who saw or spoke with him at any time over the weekend, or anyone who was in his company."

Sinn Fein MLA for South Antrim, Declan Kearney said the community was in shock.

He said: “I have spoken to local people who have expressed their shock over the murder of Mr Flowerday in Crumlin.

“Crumlin is a tight knit community with much of the town life being focused not far from where Mr Flowerday lived.

“I want to express my own sympathies to the victims family and while details are still emerging of this tragic death I would urge anyone with any bit of information or who saw anything suspicious to bring that to the PSNI.”

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