Belfast Telegraph

Police appeal as pensioner is the victim of brutal assault in his own flat

By David Young

A pensioner is seriously ill in hospital after being discovered in a badly injured state in his flat in Co Down.

The nature of the man's injuries or how he came to sustain them remained unclear last night.

Forensics officers were at the scene in Mark Street in Newtownards along with plain clothes detectives and uniformed officers.

Locals named the injured man as John Trolan (71), who lived alone in the ground floor property, one of a block of four flats sharing a communal entrance hall and staircase.

Residents last night told of their shock as news of the incident spread.

One neighbour said of Mr Trolan: "John keeps himself to himself, he's no bother.

"I can't fathom why anyone would want to do the like of that to him."

Police said they launched their investigation into what they called a "serious assault" yesterday afternoon when their officers were advised that Mr Trolan had been admitted to hospital. It is understood Mr Trolan had lived in the flat for more than six years.

A neighbour in the narrow terraced street - who did not want to be named - said two of Mr Trolan's close relatives had recently died.

"He's a quiet wee man," the neighbour said.

"But when we saw the ambulance, we thought 'Oh God, he's hurt himself, fallen or something'."

Speaking at the scene, Mike Nesbitt, the Ulster Unionist Party's candidate for Strangford, spoke of his shock at the incident.

"The big question in my mind is: 'Who did this and what was their motivation?'" he told the Belfast Telegraph. Mr Nesbitt had come directly from election activity to the Newtownards back street where the assault took place. "It seems that the victim was a relatively elderly gentleman who neighbours are saying was totally inoffensive," he added.

"I hope he makes a full recovery, and that the police catch the perpetrators behind this incident as soon as possible."

Last night police appealed for anyone who may have information about the assault to come forward.

They said officers received a report at 2.40pm yesterday that a man had been admitted to hospital earlier that morning with serious injuries.

Detective Chief Inspector Alan Dickson said: "We are working to establish how this gentleman sustained his injuries.

"I would appeal to anyone who was in the Mark Street area of Newtownards and noticed any suspicious activity to contact detectives at Bangor on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 747 08/06/17.

"Alternatively, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111."

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