The heartbroken family of a 77-year-old woman who sadly died after being burgled have renewed appeals for help and information more than a year on from the death of Maureen Whale in Barnet.
Maureen was burgled at her life-long home in Bells Hill shortly before 18:00hrs on Tuesday, 4 December 2018.
A post-mortem examination gave her cause of death as coronary heart disease and identified that her death had been brought on by the stress of the incident.
The case was featured on BBC1’s Crimewatch Roadshow this morning, Friday, 20 March, in the hope of encouraging anyone with information to come forward.
Despite the best efforts of detectives no one has yet been arrested or charged. A £20,000 reward remains on offer for information leading to arrest and prosecution.
Maureen’s family issued a statement to the public saying: “We are devastated that our beloved Aunt Maureen when she should have been safe in her own home was confronted by three cowardly burglars who broke in whilst she was alone.
“I dread to think what went through her mind. We will always have the terrible thoughts of Aunt Maureen’s last call to the police – it is heart-breaking.
“Our aunt was approaching her 78th birthday and remained fiercely independent – she had done so much good in her life and had so much more to give.
“Those responsible are still living their lives, enjoying time with their own families. I would ask you to listen to that recording of what you did to this elderly lady, listen to the fear in her voice.
“You can still make a difference and explain your side of things. Possibly you didn’t realise she was in the house or that things went wrong. Please be courageous and contact the police today.”
Detectives from Specialist Crime, led by Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh, are treating Maureen’s death as manslaughter.
Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh, who is leading the investigation, said: “It’s been over a year since the burglary that led to Maureen’s death and her family continue to suffer the pain of knowing that as yet no one has been brought to justice.
“Maureen died for the few pounds that were in her purse, which is truly wicked and mindless. She was a fiercely independent lady and so adventurous travelling the world in her younger days; it is just awful she should die in such circumstances in the home where she had lived her entire life.
“We really need the help of the public to trace these burglars. They are clearly experienced thieves, working as a team to target not just Maureen’s home but others that evening too. But knowing they are responsible for the death of a much-loved elderly lady may well have led to a change in their behaviour or conversations; they would not have intended or expected this tragic outcome. I am appealing to the families and partners of these individuals to help Maureen’s family get the justice they deserve. Handlers will also know who is responsible I’m sure. We’re not interested in you; we simply need information about what happened to Maureen.
“For anyone not quite sure on whether to make that call, especially criminals who hold that vital information, just listen to the distressing 999 call that Maureen made. Just imagine it could have been your mum or nan – burglary is a horrid crime, but what happened to Maureen is utterly wicked.”
Authorities are still seeking to identify, and trace three suspects caught on CCTV that evening.
Suspect  climbed over the outside gate, opened the gate, then entered the house. He was wearing a black zip-through gilet over a light-coloured long-sleeved top and a dark-coloured woollen hat/beanie.
Suspect  who also entered the house wore a long-sleeved top with dark patches. He wore a hood up [possibly fur trim on hood] with dark trousers and light-coloured trainers.
Suspect  acted as a look-out at the window. He was dressed in a long-sleeved, dark-coloured hooded top/jacket. He wore a baseball cap underneath the hood of his jacket, light-coloured jogging bottoms and dark trainers.
Police are also wanting to speak to the driver of a small four-door hatchback car, which travelled up Bells Hill towards Lexington Way at 17:52hrs. The car may have been a Skoda Fabia and the driver travelled directly past the suspects. That driver has not yet come forward.
The incident has been linked to burglaries at two more properties in the same road on the same evening and another around half a mile away in Sampson Avenue.
The other two break-ins at Bells Hill were reported to police at 18:20hrs that day; both had occurred around 17:35hrs. Entry was via rear balcony doors. Jewellery, around £30 worth of Turkish Lira and about £100 of Euros were stolen.
A burglary at Sampson Avenue, around half a mile away, was reported at 18:45hrs. It had taken place sometime after 11:45hrs that day. Entry was via rear patio doors and £200-£300 cash was stolen as well as around $900.
Officers have linked a further attempted burglary at Raydean Road which occurred between 13:00hrs and 18:30hrs. This was an attempt – no property was stolen.
On Thursday, 13 December 2018, Maureen’s black handbag – leather in appearance – and containing her personal effects, was found stuffed in a hedge just to the right of the road sign on the outskirts of Ravenscroft Park, nearly half a mile north of Maureen’s home.
With the support of Maureen’s family, the investigation team previously released the emotional 999 call made by Maureen. She collapsed while talking to operators.
999 call transcript:
Police, what’s your emergency
I’ve just been burgled
You’ve just been burgled?
Yes, two young men just went into the house and walked off with my handbag
Ok, just hold on please. Hold on, I’ll get someone out there.
How long ago did this happen?
Two minutes ago
Are you ok?
How old are you?
How old are you please?
Are you on your own?
Are you ok?
Are you ok?
I’m shaking, I’m sorry
Do you need an ambulance or anything?
Are you finding it hard to breath?
Ok, I’m going to call an ambulance.
Have you got any chest pains?
*heavy breathing* * no response *
What’s your first name please?
I can’t talk, I’m sorry
I’ve called an ambulance for you. Hold on.
Just hold on please.
Maureen hang on in there please
Maureen can you hear me?
If you can, tap the handset, make a noise or cough
Maureen, it says on my screen that the police have arrived
We’re going to be with you soon
The police should be there, we’re just around the corner
Oh Maureen, please answer me, please
*knocking on door – background*
Background: Hello love are you ok?
END of Transcript.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the police incident room on 020 8785 8099 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. You can visit https://crimestoppers-uk.org/giveinformation/forms/give-information-anonymously or tweet @MetCC
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