Bertie Acheson murder: New lead shifts focus to Antrim

Sheila & Bertie Acheson Bertie Acheson, who died after a confrontation with a burglar, pictured with his wife, Sheila

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Detectives investigating the murder of Coleraine pensioner Bertie Acheson have said they believe his killer may be based in Antrim.

Mr Acheson, 72, was assaulted after he confronted an intruder in his Glenmore Gardens home on 30 April.

He suffered a heart attack during the burglary which detectives said was brought on by stress.

Police said they are following up a new lead in the case which has shifted the focus away from Coleraine.

They said detectives had visited 240 houses, taken 200 statements and downloaded material from 80 CCTV systems.

Detective Inspector Ian Harrison said new information provided to police was significant.

Wife threatened

"We are making progress and this latest development of new information will provide further assistance," he said.

"I would remind people, and I believe there are individuals in the Antrim area who know who was involved in Bertie Acheson's murder, that there is a £10,000 reward available from the independent charity Crimestoppers for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the man responsible for Bertie's murder.

"We are asking people to think back to Monday 30 April and the days immediately after that. Do you know anyone who travelled from their home in the Antrim area to Coleraine in the early hours of 30 April?

"Was there a man you know who was acting in an unusual manner or whose behaviour seemed suspicious? If you have any suspicions or concerns, we want to talk to you."

Mervyn Jess reports for BBC Newsline.

Mr Acheson and his wife Sheila were in bed asleep when they were awoken by the sound of breaking glass at about 01:30 BST on 30 April.

Mr Acheson got out of bed and went into the kitchen where he was confronted by a male intruder who demanded money.

There was an altercation and a struggle which resulted in Mr Acheson falling to the floor.

The burglar then went into the bedroom where he threatened Mrs Acheson, who is 70 and suffers from arthritis, before taking her purse and escaping with £375.

Mrs Acheson raised the alarm, but by the time ambulance personnel and police arrived, her husband was dead.

Det Insp Harrison said the family's lives had been turned upside down.

"There will be no closure for them until the person responsible has been caught," he said.

"They wonder if this person has a conscience and, if so, does Bertie's death ever bother them.

"Bertie's life was taken but so many more lives have been shattered by his murder?"

Police can be contacted in Coleraine on 028 7028 0987 or through the Crimestoppers charity, on 0800 555 111.

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