Vigil for pensioner who died after shop robbery

Vigil Sammy Crawford's wife and son were among those who gathered outside the newsagents

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A vigil has taken place for a 75-year-old man who died after collapsing during a robbery in west Belfast.

Samuel Crawford from Cavendish Street was in a newsagents near his home on Monday when the robbery happened.

Mr Crawford tried to intervene, using his walking stick, but he then collapsed, suffering a suspected heart attack. He died on Wednesday.

His wife and son were among people who gathered at the shop to pay tribute to him and express their revulsion.

Prayers were said and a one-minute silence was held in his memory.

Parish priest Fr Tony Devlin paid tribute to Mr Crawford's kind nature.

"Sammy was a good wee man - a great wee neighbour, faithful to God and faithful to all his neighbours and his brothers and sisters," he told the crowd.

"He wasn't a person for gossip or scandal - he just listened out to help people."

Sammy Crawford collapsed during the robbery and later died in hospital Sammy Crawford collapsed during the robbery and later died in hospital

One of the vigil's organisers, Ciaran Hartley, said he hoped it would help the Crawford family.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet for them, and I think the fact that all their friends and neighbours, and even people who didn't know them, came out to show support was a great comfort for them," he said.

'Numb and angered'

Ahead of Wednesday evening's vigil, West Belfast MP Gerry Adams said his death was "deeply regrettable".

"I offer my sincerest sympathies to his family at this time and my thoughts and prayers and those of the local community are with them at this time," he said.

Sinn Fein Councillor Tom Hartley said Mr Crawford's death had left the community numb and angered.

"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Mr Crawford and in particular his wife Kathleen and his son Gerard," he said.

"This happened about 10 yards from his home, the family have just suffered so much since Monday."

"I am sure that the local community will rally around them to provide whatever support they may need in the coming days."

West Belfast assembly member Alex Attwood of the SDLP said: "The empathy of the entire community is with the family of Sam Crawford.

"This was a terrible incident and his death is a terrible loss for all those who loved him.

"I wish to personally convey my deepest sympathy with his relatives and friends who must be going through an awful ordeal at this time."

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