Thursday 21 June 2018

Vigil held for pensioner who was murdered in 'burglary gone wrong'

Robert Flowerday
Robert Flowerday

Claire Williamson

A candlelight vigil has been held in Northern Ireland to honour a retired teacher who was murdered in his home - which may have been a "burglary gone wrong".

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

A 33-year-old man is due to appear at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Wednesday charged with his murder.

Around 300 people gathered at the community centre in the Co Antrim village to honour the 64-year-old retired school teacher who taught maths at Antrim Grammar School and had since been tutoring.

The vigil heard Robert was a "very quiet gentleman" who was "exceptional in his own way" and had an ability to make "everybody feel special".

Reverend John Rutter told those gathered: "When I heard the news my first feeling was to be stunned, then my mind raced and I thought 'why Robert?'

"I admit to you, I'm angry and I believe it's alright to feel angry at the apparent triumph of evil and the loss of any sense of brotherhood or fraternal feelings noticing each other.

"And then I thought how Robert went about all his business so quietly, but as we've heard, so effectively with such graciousness quietness, sensitivity and from my knowledge he was a sensitive man.

"Many who were tutored by him would said how much they appreciated that."

Reverend Andy Masters, the lead pastor at Lagan Valley Vineyard Church, where Robert was a member of the congregation, said they had been inundated with messages of shock and devasatation.

He said: "When I heard the news I was deeply stunned.

"But the thing I've been mindful most of is Robert's kindness, love and gentleness and I think it's appropriate for us to reflect on those things at a time of deep deep pain."

He added: "He was an incredible man and an inspiration to us."

Speaking after the vigil Revered Rutter paid tribute to the number of people who turned out in support of Mr Flowerday.

He said: "It shows the depth of feeling for Robert himself and also for the social issues that it expresses and whatever the cause of his death, it's a way of expressing unease and a desire to get on with each other, mutual respect and capturing humanity again between people."

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.

Belfast Telegraph

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