POLICE INVESTIGATING THE death of pensioner Bertie Acheson last April are following up a new lead in the case, they revealed today.
The fresh information has shifted the inquiry’s focus away from Coleraine and onto the Antrim area.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison said he was not at liberty to disclose the exact nature of the lead but described it as significant.
“It means we are now focusing our attention on the Antrim area because that is where we believe the killer is based.”
Bertie Acheson died in the early hours of 30 April following a confrontation with an intruder at his home.
The victim had been asleep in bed beside his wife Sheila when they were woken by the sound of shattering glass at about 1.30am. Mr Acheson got out of bed to see what had happened. On entering his kitchen, he was met by a male intruder who demanded money. There was an altercation and a struggle, during which the pensioner fell to the floor.
The intruder made his way to the bedroom and threatened the victim’s 70-year-old wife. He took her purse and escaped with £375. An alarm was then raised but when emergency services arrived, Mr Acheson had passed away.
The PSNI have conducted extensive inquiries throughout the murder investigation, including home visits to 240 properties and the completion of 200 statements from the public. A substantial amount of material – downloaded from a total of 80 CCTV systems – is still being studied. Significant forensic examinations are ongoing as well.
Harrison also wished to remind the public – and those in the area who know who was involved in the murder – that a £10,000 reward has been made available for those who come forward with information that will lead to an arrest and conviction of the man responsible.
“We are asking people to think back to Monday 30 April and the days immediately after that. Do you know anyone who travelled from their home in the Antrim area to Coleraine in the early hours? Was there a man you know who was acting in an unusual manner or whose behaviour seemed suspicious? If you have any suspicions or concerns, we want to talk to you. We will treat any information in the strictest confidence but we need the information.”
The detective said the victim’s widow Sheila and the rest of her family are still trying to come to terms with the death six months on.
“The family have told me they have no sense of normality anymore,” he continued. “Their lives have been turned upside down. They try to go on as normal but it is very difficult.
“There will be no closure for them until the person responsible has been caught. They wonder if this person has a conscience and, if so, does Bertie’s death ever bother them. Bertie’s life was taken but so many more lives have been shattered by his murder.”