AN 89-YEAR-OLD war veteran who was murdered in his Blackburn home had been the victim of harassment for several years.

Albert Fielding was discovered in a ground floor flat in Limefield Court, off Preston New Road, by a neighbour on Friday morning.

A post-mortem investigation at the weekend revealed he died as a result of serious head injuries which police believe he sustained during a ‘serious and violent attack’.

It has now emerged that Mr Fielding had been plagued by people taking advantage of his good nature, including taking his money and food.

Earlier this year a restraining order was taken out on behalf of Mr Fielding to prevent at least one person from approaching him.

Neighbours said they had warned him that he was sometimes ‘a fool to himself’ and people were abusing his hospitality.

One neighbour said: “He wouldn’t listen when we told him to be more careful.

"Undesirables would knock on his door and he would give them money.

“One had even been sleeping in the outhouse in his backyard.”

Another said: “Residents have been telling Albert to keep those people away, but when we asked him if there were any problems he would say ‘No, I’m OK’.”

Neighbour Helen Gallagher said: “He helped everyone and was always very giving.

"If people were less fortunate than him, he helped them out.

“He loved animals and would sit on the bench outside and feed the birds.”

Her husband Tony added: “He was such a nice man, nothing was too much trouble.

“He took in a dog that needed somewhere to stay and when the dog died he was clearly very upset.

"People are so shocked at what has happened. It is a terrible thing to have happened to someone like him.”

Another resident said: “He was very proud and independent and would say, ‘I’ve been in the army, I can look after myself”.

“He also had a heart of gold. He had time for people and he trusted them. He was a true gentleman.”

A couple in their late 70s, who did not want to be named, said they had tried to tell Mr Fielding to ‘be careful’ about who he let into his house.

One said: “He’s a really nice man and would take anyone in.

“His wife died a few years ago and when people knocked on his door he would just let them in.

“We had just come back from shopping when we saw all this police activity. It’s a real shock.”

Another neighbour said: “Albert made me feel so welcome when I first moved here 10 years ago.

“I only spoke to him a couple of weeks ago. That’s the real shock of it all. It’s terrible.

“He was such a good neighbour. A lot of residents are elderly and we all look after each other.”

Mr Fielding lived alone following the death of his wife Dorothy four years ago.

He has a daughter and grandson who live in Fleetwood who are being supported by police.

Detective Superintendent Neil Hunter, of Lancashire Police, who is leading the inquiry, said: "We do know from speaking to family liaison officers that many people have described him as a kind and caring man who would not see bad in anybody.

“We know a few people did take advantage of that by using his home for shelter, food, warmth and drink.

"He would very rarely turn anybody away as since the death of his wife he had been reasonably lonely and craved the company of other people.

"It is quite upsetting that people have taken advantage of his good nature and it is important for anybody who has been in his flat to make themselves known to us."

Anyone with any information is asked to contact police on 01254 51212 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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