Police hunt killer of elderly widow

A PENSIONER who was robbed and murdered in the front room of her home had previously been the victim of three break-ins.

Isobel Beattie, 77, was found beaten to death in her semi-detached home in the village of Cardross on the outskirts of Dumbarton on Monday night.

Mrs Beattie, a churchgoer and retired civil servant who suffered from acute arthritis, was found dead sitting on a chair in her front room the next morning, after a friend raised the alarm that she was missing.

As a police inquiry began last night, neighbours told investigators that Mrs Beattie, a widow, had lived the past five years of her life in fear because of three previous break-ins at her home in Cardross.

Police also revealed that, despite her frail condition, they believed the pensioner had made a considerable attempt to fight off her attacker.

Last night, Strathclyde Police Detective Inspector Stephen Ward said: "This is a particularly sad attack on a defenceless and vulnerable pensioner. We are working flat out to identify and arrest whoever was responsible. It has had a terrible impact on the Cardross area, and we are increasing police patrols to alleviate the fears."

The officer added: "We do know of at least one occasion when Mrs Beattie was confronted by a man who had broken into her house. We are also investigating other house break-ins in the area."

Mrs Beattie was found by police officers shortly after 9am on Tuesday morning and a post-mortem examination confirmed later that she had been murdered, probably late on Monday evening.

It is understood that the widow had moved to Cardross from Moray after her husband, a schoolteacher, died 20 years ago. She was known locally as a regular churchgoer and a member of several of the groups and clubs in the village. One of her neighbours, Margaret Ferguson, said last night that the attack had shocked the village community and had prompted anger among locals.

She added: "Isobel had been robbed at least three times before. She said she wouldn’t be robbed again because there was nothing left to steal.

"Considering her age and the fact that she was a widow who had worked hard all of her life, for it to end like this is all so very sad and a lot of people have been left angry and confused," said Ms Ferguson.

Wendy Morrell, the owner of Cardross Post Office, said the news had shocked everyone in the village.

She added: "Things like this don’t happen in places like this. It’s just a complete shock for everyone. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Isobel; she was a polite and happy old lady."