Burglars who robbed the home of a former flight attendant minutes before she collapsed and later died will be charged with manslaughter if found, according to an investigation.
Maureen Whale, 77, who lived in Chipping Barnet, died of stress from heart and lung problems after her purse was stolen and collapsed while talking to emergency services on the phone.
Thieves stole jewelry during her travels around the world, including a “Meghan Markle-style wedding ring” and “a few pounds from her purse” on December 4, 2018.
She was rushed to hospital in critical condition after the break-in just after 6 p.m. – but died the next day.
Police said the ring similar to the one worn by the Duchess of Sussex on her wedding to Prince Harry in 2018 was a ‘one-off’ piece – which was part of a shipment that included her purse, $ 900 and £ 30 in Turkish lira.
Ms Whale’s stolen purse was later found in a hedge near her home in Bells Hill, which adjoins Barnet Hospital.
The burglars were wearing baseball caps, beanies and hoods when they entered Ms Whale’s house and stole her rings, a Pandora ring, as well as a Tiffany necklace and bracelet.
Although the Metropolitan Police offered a reward of £ 20,000 for information leading to an arrest and the case was featured on the BBC’s Crimewatch, no suspects have ever been charged.
The recording of calls for Ms Whale’s help to an emergency call manager came just seconds after the four-minute break-in, in which two men broke into the entrance to her non-side door locked while another man was a designated lookout outside.
Police issued call 999, with Ms Whale saying, “I just got robbed. They left with my purse. It happened two minutes ago. I’m shaking, I’m sorry.”
London Ambulance Service officers and paramedics rushed to the cottage-style house where Ms Whale was found sitting on her couch, dizzy and unable to breathe.
She was taken to Barnet Hospital where she died at 6:06 am the next day, a North London Coroners’ Court inquest heard today (Wednesday 25 August).
Medical examiner Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl found there were no third party injuries during the medical examination but found significant coronary artery disease linked to Ms Whale being a heavy smoker.
Ms Whale phoned police within minutes of the four-minute incident, but was soon unable to continue the call. While she was a sick woman who could die at any time, Dr Fegan-Earl said there was a link between her death and the burglary.
He told the court: “She was put under severe stress which could have caused adverse effects on her heart or lungs.
“In my opinion, it was a causal death between the burglary and his disappearance.”
The medical examiner found that she had died of a cardiac respiratory collapse associated with stress-induced coronary artery disease.
Met Police Detective Sergeant Russell Duke has called for the investigation to proceed smoothly despite confirmation that there have been no arrests and that investigations are still ongoing.
He said: “The forensic samples have been examined and we currently have no DNA leads. We are still open with the award to identify the three men involved.
“The CCTV is there and we are asking for information on who the three men are and the investigation is obviously still ongoing with us trying to identify the three men.”
Her niece Gina previously said: “Our aunt was a fiercely independent woman who should have been safe in the house she had lived in all her life.
“No one deserves to die in this way and we urge all who can help bring these men to justice to come forward and help the police with their investigation.
“Hearing my aunt’s last phone call is extremely distressing, but we hope that by releasing this to the public someone will be brought in somewhere to provide information.”
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This notice was published: 2021-08-25 11:45:00