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Pensioner robbed of his heating oil as he lay dying in hospital

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Danny O'Driscoll at the oil tank at the back of the house belonging to his late brother Johnny O'Driscoll

Danny O'Driscoll at the oil tank at the back of the house belonging to his late brother Johnny O'Driscoll

Furious: Johnny O'Driscoll's brother Danny with his wife Bernie

Furious: Johnny O'Driscoll's brother Danny with his wife Bernie

Johnny O'Driscoll

Johnny O'Driscoll

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Danny O'Driscoll at the oil tank at the back of the house belonging to his late brother Johnny O'Driscoll

A family have expressed their disgust after nearly £300 worth of heating oil was stolen from the home of their elderly relative as he lay dying in hospital.

Johnny O'Driscoll, a father-of-four from Cookstown, passed away on July 15, aged 72, after a short illness.

He had been admitted to Craigavon Area Hospital on June 21 and while he was lying gravely ill, cruel thieves targeted the pensioner's rural home on the Dunnamore Road.

They stole an estimated 500 litres of home heating oil just weeks after the tank was filled.

Bernie O'Driscoll is married to Johnny's brother Danny and has branded those responsible as "despicable".

"Johnny only had the tank filled up in May, just shortly before he was admitted to hospital as he was worried oil prices might go up," she said.

Bernie said she and Danny had been checking on Johnny's nearby home regularly while he was in hospital.

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"It was only when we were starting to clear out his things after he had died that we realised the oil was gone.

"The tank had a padlock on it which had been broken off and all of the oil stolen," she explained.

"We couldn't believe it. You wonder did the people who did this know that Johnny was in hospital and then took a chance.

"There is a house adjacent to his flat but the lady who lives there isn't always at home, so we don't know exactly when this happened."

Bernie added: "It's terrible to do this to a poor man who is lying sick in his hospital bed.

"The chapel down the road from where Johnny lived was targeted in a similar way about a year ago, so clearly these people will take oil from anywhere.

"It's disgusting that anyone would treat an ill pensioner in this way.

"The thing that keeps going through my mind is what would Johnny have done if he had come home from hospital and had no oil?

"To have made this awful discovery in the wake of his death has been really terrible for the family.

"This only adds to our pain as Johnny will only have been dead for one month today."

She described her late brother-in-law as "a very quiet man who liked the odd wee bet on the horses".

Johnny lived in the Republic for 40 years but last October he decided to move back home to be closer to his family.

"He must have known himself that he wasn't very well but he would never have said anything about being ill. We never expected him to die so soon," added Bernie.

"He bought a wee flat just down the road from my husband and I, close to the chapel. He would come up to us every day for his food and I did his washing for him so we really miss him."

Police confirmed they are investigating the theft, which they believe happened some time between midnight on Wednesday, June 27 and approximately 10.45am on Friday, July 27, and appealed for information.

"Anyone who witnessed any suspicious activity in the area, or has information about this is asked to contact police on the non emergency number 101, quoting CCS 431 of 27/07/18," a PSNI spokesperson said.


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