Family's horror at cowardly attack
Oct 20 2008 The Journal
THE FAMILY of a retired GP who was attacked in his home as he lay defenceless in bed yesterday released a photograph of his sickening injuries.
William Benson, 92, was beaten up by three raiders in a “cowardly” attack at his isolated home in Stanley, County Durham, in the early hours of Friday.
The burglars hit him in the face as he lay defenceless in bed, subjecting him to an hour-long ordeal as they went about ransacking the property.
Dr Benson, who has mobility problems after losing part of a leg, was too frail to raise the alarm and was left cold and injured for around nine hours before he was found by a carer who alerted police.
Police said they were unable to establish what had been taken from the house, Causey Lodge, on the outskirts of the town.
In a statement issued through Durham Police yesterday, Dr Benson’s family said: “There is nothing I can say that has not already been said and felt by many other people who have been put into such a situation as my family.
“I hope the people involved in this singularly offensive and cowardly crime might never have to face something similar occurring to one of their loved ones.
“They must surely realise their despicable and cowardly behaviour is offensive to so many people and makes it totally unacceptable to the whole of society. What a shame they are not real men.”
Dr Benson, and his GP father before him, served the town of Stanley for around 100 years and it is hoped local people will respond to the police appeals. He was taken to Durham’s University Hospital for treatment to facial injuries and later released.
Police are now awaiting the outcome of a series of forensic tests that ended on Saturday.
They have appealed to the people of Stanley to come forward if they had any information about suspicious activity near the much-loved former GP’s home, and say they are “very encouraged” by the response they have received.
Dr Benson had served the Stanley community for 50 years, just as his father had before him. He used a wheelchair and was disabled after having part of his leg removed when in his 80s.
He suffered bruising and cuts to his arms in the attack and is recovering in an independent nursing home.
Police work on e-fit
POLICE are hoping Dr Benson will be able to provide enough information on his attackers to help produce an e-fit of them.
Det Insp Geoff Smith said: “It’s a particularly nasty, callous crime. We have spoken to William and he’s bearing up extremely well considering the trauma he has been through. He’s a very brave and robust man.
“He is being resilient and we get the feeling he will want to return to the house and resume his normal life.
“He has an injury to his face, from where he has been hit, and another injury to his arm, but he has managed to give us some details of what happened.
“While the men were in his bedroom they removed his bedding so he wasn’t able to get to the covers to keep warm, which he found very distressing.
“We have very vague descriptions of the men involved, in that they were all white males in their 20s, and they were not believed to be wearing masks.
“An artist will work with William to try and build up e-fits of the men.”
DI Smith said a team of 12 officers are working on the investigation and they are looking at the possibility that the incident is connected to a recent spate of criminal activity in the Stanley area.
He said: “I wouldn’t describe it as a crime wave but there have been some thefts and burglaries from sheds, houses and a public houses in the last few weeks, so we are considering the possibility they are linked.”