How we use Cookies

Jacket clue to Maniac

Community shocked by brutal attack

The navy jacket with grey lapels which was found in an alleyway nearby.
The navy jacket with grey lapels which was found in an alleyway nearby.

A distinctive jacket could hold the key to a brutal assault on an Accrington couple in their own home.

Police believe the man who attacked and robbed John and Jean Conroy may have been wearing the tailored suit jacket which was found discarded, along with a pair of gloves, in the back alley of Gillies Street and Lee Street on the night of the incident.

It is dark blue with lighter coloured or grey lapels and was made by Accrington tailor Guiseppe Alessi. The phone number printed on the label has the old dialling code 0254.

Detective Inspector Jim Elston said: "We can't say for certain that it was the jacket worn by the offender but we strongly believe it to be. We're appealing to anybody who might recognise the jacket to contact us."

Meanwhile, Mr and Mrs Conroy have spoken of the crime that shocked a community.

The couple, both 74, suffered a terrifying ordeal as they tried to fight off a "maniac" who attacked them in their own home before stealing a handbag and £100.

They both needed hospital treatment after the attack, which happened in their warden-controlled bungalow in Plantation Street, Accrington, last Wednesday evening.

A substantial reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the attacker.

Mr Conroy, a retired joiner, was returning from a night out at Rishton Conservative Club at around 9.15pm when the incident happened.

The attacker, who may have had a weapon, forced his way in through the front door, punched Mr Conroy to the floor and demanded money before smashing his wife into a wall when she tried to help her husband.

He then took the handbag - which contained money, cards, family photographs and a crucifix - before making off.

Mr Conroy said: "He just came charging in after me. He started hitting me on the head, saying: 'Give us your money or you'll get some more of this screwdriver.'

"I caught my head on the table as I fell down. All I could think was: 'Who is this maniac?' I was so shocked."

Mrs Conroy said she tried to drag the attacker off her husband of 53 years.

She said: "He was on top of John so I grabbed his hair and he knocked me against the wall. There was blood everywhere. I got up and made for the telephone but he knocked my hand away. He just kept shouting: 'Give me your money.'

"I managed to get the front door open and I was trying to push him out. I was saying: 'Get out of my house' but he was too much for me.

"He then spotted my handbag in the living room and grabbed it before running away."

Mrs Conroy called for help and an ambulance took the shocked couple to Blackburn Royal Infirmary. Mr Conroy had cuts and bruises to his head, face and hands.

The couple, who have four children and nine grandchildren, thanked the police for their support and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Mrs Conroy said: "I don't want this to happen to anybody else - there are a lot of people living on their own here and I would hate for it to happen to them."

DI Elston said: "This was a callous and vicious attack on a defenceless elderly couple. If the motive was theft, there was no reason to attack either Mr or Mrs Conroy in such a cruel way.

"I am extremely anxious to trace this individual and would appeal for any information from the public or, indeed, the criminal community.

"We're following the line of inquiry that the offender may have been armed with a weapon of some sort because of the injuries to Mr Conroy."

The attacker was described as white, in his mid-20s, with short, mousy, dark hair and a thin face.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist