A CLOSE-KNIT community was left shocked last night after an elderly housebound man was beaten and robbed in his home.
Retired doctor William Benson, 92, spent decades of his working life caring for the people of Stanley, County Durham.
But he suffered a terrifying ordeal when burglars broke into his isolated home on the outskirts of the town late on Thursday.
They hit him in the face as he lay defenceless in bed, before ransacking the property.
Dr Benson, who is wheelchair-bound, was too frail to raise the alarm.
Shocked carers alerted police after finding him injured in bed when they paid their daily visit yesterday.
Police said they were unable to establish what had been taken from the house, Causey Lodge.
Although it is relatively isolated, it is close to two pubs, the Blue Bell and the South Causey Inn.
Detectives hope that customers in either, or both, may have noticed suspicious activity on Thursday night or early Friday.
Near neighbour Gordon Armstrong, 93, a retired naval commander, said he had known Dr Benson for 50 years.
“He was my GP when I came out of the Navy in 1958. He was known as Young Doctor Benson, because he took over the practice from his father. His practice was in Stanley town centre near St Andrew’s Church. I recall that he was a keen yachtsman.
“As far as I know he never married and lived alone in the property.
“For him to be attacked like that at his time of life is scandalous.”
Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “We saw a police car going in the direction of the house this morning.
“Dr Benson is wheelchair bound and I don’t think he particularly encourages visitors.
“What has happened to a defenceless elderly gentleman is shocking.”
Acting Inspector Tony Dumighan of Durham CID said: “It was a sickening and unnecessary attack on an elderly man who was able to offer little or no resistance.
“The intruders broke in during the night and attacked the doctor. They ransacked the house before leaving.”
DI Dumighan said police had been unable to interview Dr Benson, who was in Durham’s University Hospital receiving treatment for facial injuries.
He said officers were keen to speak to anybody who had noticed anything suspicious in the area late on Thursday night or early Friday, or who had any information on the identity of the burglars.
They should contact 0345 606-0365 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.