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'Our mother died after she was terrified and humiliated in robbery'

By Marion Brennan | Dudley | Crime | Published: | Last Updated:

“You know you’re going to lose your mom sometime – but not like this.”

Derek Malpass and Lorraine Morris were emotional as they recounted the weeks before their mother's death

These were the words of Derek Malpass whose 83-year-old mother Betsy died just 10 days after she was held captive in her living room while robbers ransacked her home and stole her life savings.

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Mr Malpass, 62, a project engineer for National Grid, said the gang took jewellery, including his widowed mother’s wedding ring, as well as her money which she kept locked in a box in her wardrobe.

Her family are convinced the trauma of the terrifying raid led to her untimely death, although a post mortem found there to be no link.

Derek said: “She wasn’t good on her feet but she still managed to do a bit of cooking. She was happy with her life.

"She loved watching black and white films and having a cup of tea and a cigarette, that’s all she wanted.

Tragedy – Betsy Malpass died aged 83

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“But she wasn’t right after the burglary. As the days went by, she got more worried about somebody else coming back, plus it was all building up what she’d lost. They’d ransacked the place, tipped out all her photographs, emptied her ring boxes. She just wasn’t the same after that.”

The tiny great-grandmother, who was little over 4ft high and weighed less than five stone, was forced to sit on a chair in her living room for around 30 minutes while four men raided her home in Corporation Road, Kates Hill, on Friday February 8.

The gang tricked their way in after telling her through the front door that they were from the water board and they had come to fix a valve that was “going to explode” if not treated.

Betsy, alert to the danger of cold callers, opened the door slightly to see if she could see an official van but as she tried to shut the door, her suspicions raised, she was pushed back into the house where she was told “Don’t move or I’m going to hurt you”.

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One of the gang stayed on guard beside her while three accomplices searched the property.

Derek Malpass broke down as he told how his terrified mother had told her captor she thought she was having a heart attack.

He fetched her nebuliser from the table but as the gang left, they put her mobile phone under a running tap so she could not use it.

His sister Lorraine Morris, 63, said: “So if it was a heart attack, she couldn’t even get in touch with anyone.

Lorraine Morris

“The people who did this are just cowards. It’s hard enough to lose your mom in natural circumstances but this is horrendous.”

Mr Morris, of Amblecote, visited her mother every day, staying with her till lunchtime.

He said: “We usually watched Bargain Hunt together, I’d make her a cup of tea before I left, lock the window and check the doors about half a dozen times.

“Mom was well aware of the dangers of opening the door to strangers.

"She loved Crimewatch and would even watch it instead of her favourite soap if the times clashed. She thought she was safe in her own home.”

Before the burglary, Betsy Malpass had been outgoing and mentally alert “she was proper Black Country, very direct, she’d tell us if we were putting on weight,” said Mr Morris, from Pensnett, who used to call in on his mother on his way home from work.

Corporation Road, in Kates Hill, Dudley. Picture: Google

She had never been on holiday but had enjoyed days out in Rhyl and Blackpool and was content with her lot.

“But after it happened, she wouldn’t leave the living room. She’d been sleeping on the settee because she was scared upstairs.

"The Friday before she died she’d gone to the toilet by the front door and come back into the room panting.

"She said ‘Every time I look at the front door, it all comes back to me’ and she started fighting for breath.”

The next day Betsy was rushed into hospital where she died two days later on February 16.

Detective Sergeant Leighton Shingles

She would have been 84 on Tuesday, St George’s Day, but instead of celebrating, her family gathered for a meal to mourn her death.

Now they have launched an appeal to help to find the people responsible.

Crimestoppers has put up a £5,000 reward for information leading to their arrest and conviction.

Detective Sergeant Leighton Shingles, who is leading the investigation, said the gang used a black Audi A4 or A6 which was captured on CCTV driving to the property along Birmingham New Road and Highfield Road and leaving along the same route.

He appealed for anyone with dashcam who was in the vicinity around 3pm to 3.30pm that afternoon to contact the police.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan
@Marion_EStar

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.

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