A senior detective has warned criminals who violate a family home “that they will be caught and they will face a long term of imprisonment.”
DCI Ian Harrison was speaking after Paul James Manolito Toland, originally of The Cedars, Antrim, received a nine-year sentence for the manslaughter of Coleraine pensioner Bertie Acheson (72) at his Mountsandel home in April 2012.
The sentence will consist of four-and-a-half years in prison with the remainder on licence.
Speaking after sentencing was passed, DCI Harrison 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.
“The events in the early hours of Monday 30 April 2012 robbed them of a much loved husband, father and friend who is sadly missed to this day.
“Bertie was 72 and he died as a result of a heart attack after confronting Paul Toland in the kitchen of his home at Glenmore Gardens in Coleraine.
“Toland had been at the house the previous month to repair a vacuum cleaner and had been paid in cash. We believe that Toland’s greed brought him back to the house in the expectation that he could break in and steal whatever cash he could get his hands on.
“Toland broke in but he woke Bertie and Sheila. Bertie confronted him in the kitchen where Toland demanded money. There was a struggle and Bertie suffered a fatal heart attack. Toland then went into the bedroom where he threatened Sheila before grabbing her purse and making off with £335. He made off with money but he left behind a heart-broken family.”
The senior detective thanked the public for their help during the investigation.
He added: “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.”