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Pensioner dies two days after being victim of robbery

By Colin O'Carroll

Published 25/04/2015

North Belfast DUP MLA William Humphrey
North Belfast DUP MLA William Humphrey

The family of an 82-year-old woman who died just days after being the victim of a robbery believe the incident contributed directly to her death.

North Belfast DUP MLA William Humphrey said the family of Maureen Swindell, who died on Thursday two days after she was the victim of a distraction burglary at her home in the Shankill area, were convinced that the stress caused by the robbery contributed to her death.

Speaking after visiting family members to express his condolences, Mr Humphrey said: "The burglary of her Pernau Street home, which occurred on Tuesday morning, was clearly a very distressing experience for Maureen Swindell and her sister Lily.

"A man called at her door claiming to be from a housing authority.

"While he distracted the two sisters, an accomplice entered the house.

"When Lily realised that someone was upstairs and threatened to call the police, both men fled.

"On Thursday, Maureen took ill with a suspected heart attack while shopping in town.

"She was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital where tragically she died."

He said the elderly woman was worried the robbers would return.

"Family members are in no doubt that the stress caused by the burglary resulted directly in her death.

"Although it was not known if anything had been stolen, she was very concerned that door keys had been taken and was worried that the burglars could return.

"This is a tragic reminder of the stress caused to the victims of crime and the potential consequences of that, particularly when they feel that their safety has been compromised.

"Maureen Swindell was well known and liked in the Shankill area, where she had lived for all her life.

"I call upon anyone who knows who was responsible for this burglary to examine their conscience and to pass that information on to the police without delay.

"Those who prey on vulnerable members of society for their own selfish gain must be removed from our streets and brought to justice."

The PSNI has issued regular warnings to people to beware of bogus callers and said all householders, particularly elderly or vulnerable people, should always insist on proper identification and refuse entry to those without it.

Police said genuine callers will have no issue with householders who ask for ID or contact employers to check their credentials.

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