A minister has said that there is great fear in the community while the killer of Coleraine pensioner, Bertie Acheson, remains at large.
Speaking at Mr Acheson’s funeral on Saturday afternoon, Rev Hugh Mullan described the 72-year-old as a devoted, decent man who was also a “defender”.
Mr Acheson collapsed and died from a heart attack after confronting a burglar at his home in Glenmore Gardens, Coleraine, in the early hours of Monday. His wife of 44 years, Shiela, who suffers from arthritis, was unharmed.
Rev Mullan said there was “great fear” in the community because the intruder was still at large.
The minister told mourners that Mr Acheson’s family “is not bitter” but want the man responsible to give himself up.
He said the people of Coleraine were “obviously devastated” and still in shock at the circumstances of Mr Acheson’s death.
Rev Mullan said: “The community is fearful. The community, church, friends are all at one at this time.
“Obviously there is a great fear while this person remains at large, they certainly want him apprehended.”
After the service the pensioner was laid to rest at Second Dunboe Presbyterian Church Cemetery.
Mr Acheson’s family and friends were joined at the service by MLAs from the area and the MP for East Londonderry, Gregory Campbell.
Meanwhile Mr Acheson’s brother, Mervyn, has said jail terms for such crimes failed to refect the “devastation” caused to families.
Mervyn Acheson said the justice system in Northern Ireland provided “absolutely no deterrent”.
In a statement, he said: “Bertie’s daughter Sandra and son-in-law Keith have exhibited great strength and dignity in the extremely difficult circumstances of dealing with the police appeal.
“Also, they and the wider family circle have provided Sheila, Bertie’s wife, with strong emotional support at this difficult time.
“Unfortunately in today’s climate there is absolutely no deterrent for such senseless crimes, as court process and jail times fail to reflect the severity of said crimes and the devastation caused to the family in the aftermath.”
He appealed to the burglar to give himself up and also urged the public to come forward with any information that could help to catch the man responsible for his brother’s death.
He thanked the police for their “diligence and dedication” during the investigation
Officers believe the intruder lives locally.
During the ordeal, the burglar threatened Mr Acheson’s 70-year-old wife, Sheila, before escaping with £375.
Police said they had received a number of calls to an inquiry line investigating Mr Acheson’s death and a number of other leads are also being followed.
The Crimestoppers charity has offered a reward of up to £10,000 for information about his killing.
On Wednesday, Mr Acheson’s daughter, Sandra Creelman, spoke of her family’s heartbreak since his death.
She said the burglar had “ruined so many lives in the space of half an hour”.