11/12/2014

Man Sentenced Over Bertie Acheson Murder

A man has been sentenced to nine years in prison over the manslaughter of pensioner Bertie Acheson in Coleraine, County L'Derry.

Paul Toland's sentence will consist of four and a half years in prison and the remainder on licence.

Mr Acheson was 72 when he died of a heart attack after confronting Paul Toland in the kitchen of his home at Glenmore Gardens in the early hours of Monday 30 April 2012.

Mr Toland had been at the house the month before to repair a vacuum cleaner and had been paid in cash. Police said they believe Mr Toland then returned back to the house in order to steal more.

He broke into the property and woke Mr Acheson and his wife Sheila. Mr Acheson confronted the intruder, at which point Toland demanded money. There was a struggle and Mr Acheson suffered a fatal heart attack. Toland then went into the bedroom and threatened Mrs Acheson before grabbing her purse and making off with £335.

A statement from the PSNI said: "Foremost in our thoughts today are Bertie Acheson's family – his wife Sheila, stepdaughter Sandra, son-in-law Keith, grandson Jonathan and the wider family circle.

"I want to thank the local community in Coleraine and in Antrim for the support and assistance they provided to the investigation team during our enquiries.

"I also want to pay tribute to the detective team, MIT 5 from Serious Crime Branch. Their commitment and professionalism were major factors in securing Paul Toland's plea of guilty to manslaughter. His sentence of nine years should serve as a warning to those who violate a family home with tragic consequences that they will be caught and they will face a long term of imprisonment.

"People in Coleraine and other towns should feel safer in their homes now that Paul Toland is behind bars. They can help make themselves safer by not keeping large amounts of cash in the house. You are only exposing yourselves to unnecessary risk. In memory of Bertie Acheson, and to avoid the pain still being suffered by his family, please do not keep large amounts of money at home."

(IT/JP)

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