Belfast Telegraph

Bertie Acheson: Robber jailed for Coleraine pensioner killing

By Chris Kilpatrick

The killer of a pensioner who died after a violent confrontation with a robber in his home was today jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Bertie Acheson (72) died after an altercation with Paul James Manolito Toland, who had previously been to his property to service his vacuum cleaner.

Having seen around £2,000 cash in the house, Toland - who had 18 previous criminal convictions dating from when he was just 15 - returned and broke into the property.

Toland, originally of The Cedars in Antrim, was due to stand trial for murder but that charge was dropped after he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter as well as robbery last month.

Mr Acheson sustained a broken nose, cuts and bruises and a fracture to cartilage in his neck after the altercation with Toland in his Coleraine home.

He died of a heart attack.

Toland (41) escaped with £335, having told a terrified Mrs Acheson if she did not hand him the cash from her purse he would kill her husband of 44 years.

At Laganside Crown Court today, Toland was sentenced to nine years, half in prison and half on licence.

Afterwards, the senior investigating police officer, DCI Ian Harrison, said: "Foremost in our thoughts today are Bertie Acheson’s family – his wife Sheila, stepdaughter Sandra, son-in-law Keith, grandson Jonathan and the wider family circle. The events in the early hours of Monday 30 April 2012 robbed them of a much loved husband, father and friend who is sadly missed to this day.

"Bertie was 72 and he died as a result of a heart attack after confronting Paul Toland in the kitchen of his home at Glenmore Gardens in Coleraine.

"Toland had been at the house the previous month to repair a vacuum cleaner and had been paid in cash. We believe that 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.

"Toland broke in but he woke Bertie and Sheila. Bertie confronted him in the kitchen where Toland demanded money. There was a struggle and Bertie suffered a fatal heart attack. Toland then went into the bedroom where he threatened Sheila before grabbing her purse and making off with £335.

"He made off with money but he left behind a heart-broken family."

The senior officer added: "His sentence of nine years should serve as a warning to those who violate a family home with tragic consequences that they will be caught and they will face a long term of imprisonment.

"People in Coleraine and other towns should feel safer in their homes now that Paul Toland is behind bars."

Further reading

Bertie Acheson's widow can't return home: Pensioner won't enter house where husband died during burglary 

 

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