CRUEL thieves broke into tragic Billy Archer’s home as he lay on his death bed in hospital - with his heartbroken family discovering the vile crime just 10 minutes before he died.
Today, as police launched an investigation into the sick offence, his devastated niece Chantelle Foster branded those responsible as “scum”.
Hartlepool man Billy, 60, who was paralysed down one side of his body following a stroke a few years ago, slipped and fell outside of his home in Staindrop Street, in the Burbank area, on Thursday, April 24.
A neighbour rang for an ambulance and the former labourer was taken to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, where his condition grew steadily worse over the following days.
On Sunday, April 27, Billy was left almost unable to speak, but managed to communicate to 30-year-old Chantelle that he wanted her to go into his home and get his Post Office card and money.
She left the hospital and travelled to her uncle’s home and noticed his 32ins flat screen television, which the family had bought Billy as a gift about four years earlier, was missing.
Chantelle, a mum-of-four, of Whitby Grove, Hartlepool, said social workers confirmed the telly was there when they were last in the property the day before Billy’s fall so she believes it must have been stolen while he was in hospital.
As she left Billy’s home 10 minutes later on the Sunday, she got a phone call to say he had died. It has since been confirmed that his cause of death was pneumonia.
“Billy was on his death bed when someone did this,” said Chantelle, whose mum Eileen Foster, 60, was Billy’s twin. “It’s sick and its’ twisted and whoever did this is scum.
“To do that to a man who is dying in hospital is just shocking.
“Billy didn’t have any idea of this bless him. He would have gone absolutely berserk. That was the only thing of any value that he had.
“Some people just don’t care, they don’t have a heart or any morals at all.”
She added: “I really want anyone who knows anything about this to tell the police. I hope they catch who’s responsible.”
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said: “Police are appealing for information after a house was broken into while the resident was in hospital, and later sadly died.
“The 60-year-old man was admitted to the University of North Tees on Thursday, April 24, after a fall outside of his address on Staindrop Street, Hartlepool.
“While in hospital his bungalow was targeted and a 32ins flat screen television was stolen which had been bought for him as a gift from his family.
“The man later sadly died on Sunday, April 27.”
Anyone with any information regarding the suspect or anyone who may have information on the stolen television should contact Detective Constable Jason Mactaggart on the non-emergency 101 number or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.