A heartbroken family have renewed appeals for information more than a year after a 77-year-old woman died after she collapsed following a burglary at her home

On December 4 2018 shortly before 6pm, two men broke into the home of Maureen Whale in Bells Hill, Chipping Barnet.

After the burglary, Ms Whale rang 999 but she collapsed during the call and later died.

A post-mortem examination gave her cause of death as coronary heart disease and identified that her death had been brought on by the stress of the incident.

There is a £20,000 reward for information which leads to an arrest and a prosecution. 

Listen to Maureen's 999 call which sadly turned out to the last call she ever made. Credit: Met Police

'A fiercely independent woman'

Today, the case is being featured on BBC 1 show Crimewatch Roadshow, while Ms Whale's family have also released an emotional appeal.

In a statement, the family said: "We are devastated that our beloved Aunt Maureen when she should have been safe in her own home was confronted by three cowardly burglars who broke in whilst she was alone.

"I dread to think what went through her mind. We will always have the terrible thoughts of Aunt Maureen’s last call to the police - it is heart-breaking. "Our aunt was approaching her 78th birthday and remained fiercely independent - she had done so much good in her life and had so much more to give."

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"Those responsible are still living their lives, enjoying time with their own families. I would ask you to listen to that recording of what you did to this elderly lady, listen to the fear in her voice.

"You can still make a difference and explain your side of things. Possibly you didn’t realise she was in the house or that things went wrong. Please be courageous and contact the police today."

The suspects

Police are after three suspects caught on CCTV on the evening of December as well as a hatchback who was travelling in the area at the time of the incident who may be a key witness.

The first suspect climbed over a gate and broke into Ms Whale's home. He was wearing a black zip-through gilet over a light-coloured long-sleeved top and a dark-coloured woollen hat/beanie.

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Suspect 1

The second suspect also broke into the property. He wore a hood up with dark trousers and light-coloured trainers.

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Suspect 2

The third suspect acted as a look-out. He was dressed in a long-sleeved, dark-coloured hooded top/jacket. He wore a baseball cap underneath the hood of his jacket, light-coloured jogging bottoms and dark trainers.

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Suspect 3 is circled

On December 13 2018, Ms Whale's black handbag was found stuffed in a hedge just to the right of the road sign on the outskirts of Ravenscroft Park, nearly half a mile north of Ms Whale's home.

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A key witness?

Police also want to trace the driver of a small four-door hatchback car, which travelled up Bells Hill towards Lexington Way at 17.52pm on the day of the burglary.

The car may have been a Skoda Fabia and the driver travelled directly past the suspects. That driver has not yet come forward.

Detectives are linking the burglary at Ms Whale's home to four other incidents in the area on December 4 - two further break-ins in Bells Hill at 5.35pm, and a burglary in Sampson Avenue any time between 11.45am and 6.45pm.

There was an attempted burglary too in Raydean Road which took place between 1pm and 6.30pm.

'They are clearly experienced thieves....but they would not have intended or expected this tragic outcome'

Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh, who is leading the investigation, said: "It’s been over a year since the burglary that led to Maureen’s death and her family continue to suffer the pain of knowing that as yet no one has been brought to justice.

"Maureen died for the few pounds that were in her purse, which is truly wicked and mindless. She was a fiercely independent lady and so adventurous travelling the world in her younger days; it is just awful she should die in such circumstances in the home where she had lived her entire life.

"We really need the help of the public to trace these burglars. They are clearly experienced thieves, working as a team to target not just Maureen’s home but others that evening too.

"But knowing they are responsible for the death of a much-loved elderly lady may well have led to a change in their behaviour or conversations; they would not have intended or expected this tragic outcome. I am appealing to the families and partners of these individuals to help Maureen’s family get the justice they deserve.

"Handlers will also know who is responsible I’m sure. We’re not interested in you; we simply need information about what happened to Maureen."

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"For anyone not quite sure on whether to make that call, especially criminals who hold that vital information, just listen to the distressing 999 call that Maureen made. Just imagine it could have been your mum or nan – burglary is a horrid crime, but what happened to Maureen is utterly wicked."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police incident room on 020 8785 8099 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. You can visit https://crimestoppers-uk.org/giveinformation/forms/give-information-anonymously or tweet @MetCC