Pensioner dies just days after robbers target him
An elderly man has been found dead at his south Belfast home just days after he was robbed by bogus callers.
Neighbours of Robert Gardiner (74), told the Belfast Telegraph they believe he would still be alive if he hadn’t been assaulted at his Ashley Avenue address last Friday night by men posing as Water Board officials.
Mr Gardiner’s home was ransacked and thieves made off with his phone and a bank card at around 8pm.
The pensioner, described as a “small, frail wee man” who was just five feet tall, fled to a neighbour’s house to raise the alarm.
Mr Gardiner was left badly shaken and bruised following his ordeal.
Described as a creature of habit, he hadn’t been seen in the area since Saturday afternoon.
On Wednesday evening, the police discovered his lifeless body at the address he had lived at all his life. A police spokesman said: “As a result of a post-mortem examination, police are not treating the death of a man whose body was found at residential premises in the Ashley Avenue area of Belfast on the evening of Wednesday, July 25 as suspicious.”
However, frightened residents said they are linking Mr Gardiner’s death with the trauma he suffered at the hands of the ruthless criminals who invaded his home.
One 92-year-old woman, who did not want to be identified, said she was living in fear of being next and keeps a wooden bat by her front door to protect herself.
“He should have been taken to the hospital after he was robbed,” she said. “It’s a disgrace pensioners are not being left alone to live out their lives.”
Another added: “He was a fit wee man and loved going to the bar for a pint. I hope to God they get whoever robbed him.”
A group of students, who moved into the area only a few weeks ago, showed the Belfast Telegraph a letter from the police appealing for information and warning them of bogus callers operating in the area.
One student said: “I don’t feel safe being on my own and I am a young man.
“I saw the police cars outside his home at 1am and then forensic guys were there too.
“It’s terrible to think of what happened to him. It’s a bit of coincidence he drops dead after this happening.”
Community worker Mo McDevitt said there has been a problem with vandalism and theft in the area and called for more of a police presence at night.
“People living here are very nervous,” she said. “His death is in the hands of whoever forced their way into his home.”
June: A pensioner in Clogher was attacked by a man who was invited into his home who stole his bank cards and cash.
May: A 72-year-old man was left with cuts to his face and a suspected broken ankle after disturbing an intruder at his home in Newtownabbey.
April: Bertie Acheson (72) died of a heart attack in a struggle with a burglar in his Coleraine home.
March: Robbers ransacked the Crossgar home of Eric Moreland (71) and threatened him after realising he had no cash at home.
February: Helen Agnew was knocked unconscious as the 76-year-old struggled with a robber close to her Portadown home.