Bathgate pensioner attack was attempted murder

Police officers at the scene. Pic: Ian Rutherford
Police officers at the scene. Pic: Ian Rutherford
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POLICE are investigating a ‘cowardly’ knife attack on a Bathgate pensioner in his own home as attempted murder.

The 65-year-old man, named locally as Harry Reekie, was left fighting for his life following the attack at his home on Lothian Street, Bathgate, at 3.20am yesterday.

Police said today they were keeping an open mind on the motive for the attack as neighbours suggested it may have been a burglary gone wrong.

Detective Inspector Martin MacLean from the Major Investigation Team said: “This was a cowardly, brutal attack on a defenseless, elderly man in his own home in the middle of the night. He was stabbed repeatedly and sustained life-threatening injuries.

“My team and I are keeping an open mind on the motive for this attack, and whilst items of property would appear to have been stolen, this is an attempted murder investigation.

“The inquiry is at an early stage but I would reiterate our appeal to members of the local community, neighbours or anyone else who was in the area of Lothian Street, Avon Road, Cochrane Street or other nearby streets and who saw anything or anyone suspicious to contact the police.

“In particular we interested in speaking to or identifying two men who may have been seen together in the area, both white, about 5ft 10in, aged 20 years to 40 years old, one wearing a blue hoody, the other a grey hoody, both possibly wearing jogging bottoms.”

Officers cordoned off the road and a nearby parkland to search for clues, while forensic teams were seen collecting samples in a bid to trace the attacker. A large police canopy to assist investigations was also erected in the parkland.

A neighbour, who declined to be identified, said police officers explained that Mr Reekie’s cries had woken nearby residents who raised the alarm and may have forced the attacker to flee.

It is believed Mr Reekie moved into the street earlier this year after his brother, Colin, passed away.

He is receiving treatment at St John’s Hospital in Livingston, where he is described as being in a serious but stable condition.

Alexa Walker, 32, who lives near Mr Reekie on Lothian Street, said police had been quizzing residents on their movements between 12am and 6am on Tuesday.

She said: “It’s a horrible thing to happen, nothing like that has ever happened in this street before.

“There was a burglary five or ten minutes up the road a few weeks ago, where someone’s back door got smashed down. It makes you think this was a burglary gone wrong.”

Neighbour Margaret Leyden, 65, who has lived in the area for 25 years, said the attack had left her feeling “frightened”.

She added: “I was told the man was attacked in his house. I think there’s quite a lot of burglaries in the last two or three years, because it’s all pensioners and stuff who stay here. I think it’s worrying.”

Police were seen searching the park behind Lothian Street with forensics equipment yesterday afternoon.

A police spokeswoman said: “Inquiries are at an early stage and Police Scotland is appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the incident or who has any information regarding the assault to contact us.”

The attack took place less than 100 yards from where police discovered the body of Carol Jarvis under the floor boards of her Balbardie Crescent home. The 47-year-old had been killed by Harry Jarvis, her husband of nearly three decades.