Man held in custody over pensioner death

Published Thursday, 29 November 2012
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A 39-year-old man has been remanded in custody after being charged with the manslaughter of a Co Londonderry pensioner.

Man held in custody over pensioner death
Paul Toland appears in court charged with the manslaughter of Bertie Acheson. (© Pacemaker)

Paul James Manolito Toland, from The Cedars, Antrim, appeared at Ballymena Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

The maintenance engineer, whose wife, Jennifer Toland, has also been charged with manslaughter, denied killing 72-year-old Bertie Acheson in April.

Mr Toland, a father-of-three, appeared in the dock dressed in a grey top and blue jeans.

He spoke only to confirm that he understood the charge against him and stared at the ceiling throughout most of the brief hearing.

District Judge Desmond Perry rejected a bail application because of the frailty of Mr Acheson's widow, Sheila, who is the principal witness in the case.

A PSNI detective constable told the court there was evidence linking Mr Toland to the crime scene.

She said his DNA had been found on a brick which was used to smash a window at the pensioner's home.

The detective, who opposed bail, also said there was CCTV footage showing Mr Toland's van in the Antrim and Coleraine area around the time of the killing.

This was a burglary gone badly wrong.

Judge Desmond Perry

She said: "Our concerns are that Mr Toland would interfere with other witnesses namely the wife of the deceased and members of the co-accused's family - he could try to influence."

The police officer said there may also be a risk that Mr Toland could dispose of items stolen from the Acheson house that had not yet been recovered by detectives.

Defence solicitor Ferghal McElhatton said the presumption of innocence rested with his client and argued that he should be granted bail.

Earlier, Mrs Toland, 23, appeared before Ballymena Court for a second time.

The pregnant mother-of-one was released on continuing bail.

Mr Acheson suffered a fatal heart attack when robbers broke into his home in the Glenmore Gardens area in April this year.

His disabled wife raised the alarm but by the time ambulance and police arrived, the 72-year-old had died.

The Crimestoppers charity has offered a £10,000 reward for information which leads to the conviction of the offender.

The PSNI have carried out extensive inquiries into the murder.

Detectives have visited 240 houses and taken 200 statements from members of the public.

A substantial amount of material has been downloaded from 80 CCTV systems.

Mr Toland is to reappear before the court next month.

© UTV News
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