`Savage' murder of elderly man shocks Shankill

 

THE RUC has described the murder of a 78 year-old man in his home off the Shankill Road in Belfast as a "particularly cruel and savage attack".

The body of Mr Andrew Spence, a widower who lived alone, was found by police in the house on Battenberg Street on Monday at around 4 p.m. Neighbours had become concerned because Mr Spence had not been seen for two days.

He had suffered head injuries and, according to the RUC, there appeared to be signs of a forced entry to the house. A senior RUC officer said that robbery could have been the motive, but police were keeping an open mind.

Neighbours described the victim as a quiet man. One woman said he was "a perfect gentleman, not like the scum we have today." These people had the mistaken idea that old people have money, she said.

Another elderly neighbour said people had gone into the house looking for Mr Spence before his body was found, but it had been hidden under blankets.

Speaking on Ulster Radio yesterday, a local Progressive Unionist Party councillor, Mr Hugh Smyth, said he was "absolutely appalled, particularly at a time when Shankill was beginning to get a bit of credit. My big appeal would be for the people who did it to give themselves up because it's so obvious that they need help. And to the general public that if they have anything, not to hesitate to give that information to the police."