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Burglar jailed after pensioner dies from heart attack during robbery

72-year-old Bertie Acheson died at his home in Coleraine.

Image: PSNI/PA Images

A BURGLAR WHO returned to the home of two pensioners after fixing their vacuum cleaner has been jailed for manslaughter after 72-year-old Bertie Acheson died during the robbery.

The victim had been asleep in bed beside his wife Sheila at their Derry home in April 2012 when they were woken by the sound of shattering glass at about 1.30am.

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, Acheson had died of a heart attack.

Yesterday, Paul Toland was handed a nine-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of the grandfather of one.

Toland had been at the house in Coleraine the month previously to to repair a vacuum cleaner and had been paid in cash.

“Toland’s greed brought him back to the house in the expectation that he could break in and steal whatever cash he could get his hands on,” according to investigating PSNI officer Ian Harrison. “He made off with money but he left behind a heartbroken family.”

Toland’s nine-year sentence will consist of four-and-a-half years in prison and four-and-a-half years on licence.

Read: New lead for police investigating murder of pensioner >

Read: Woman due in court over Bertie Acheson death >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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