The Sun backs £10,000 appeal to help WW2 vet, 98, battered by burglars for his £10 TV

WW2 veteran Peter Gouldstone was attacked while sleeping in his bed in a sickening new crime low just days before the Remembrance commemorations.

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The frail pensioner’s family released a photograph of him lying unconscious in hospital as they appealed for information about the cowardly attack. The Sun launched a JustGiving page for the family and pledged £5,000.

Retired GPO worker Peter was punched in the eye, dragged from his bed and battered during the shameful assault at the home in Arnos Grove, North London, where he has lived for more than 60 years.

The house-bound grandfather suffered two bleeds to the brain as a result of his injuries and was in a critical condition in hospital fighting his last battle for life.

His son Simon, 67, found his father lying semi-conscious in his bedroom amid a scene of chaos with cupboards and drawers tipped out in a search for cash and valuables.

A 26in black Panasonic TV set – worth around £10 on Ebay – was stolen along with some personal valuables during the break-in carried out under cover of fireworks on Bonfire Night .

A neighbour spotted spotted Peter’s back door open at around 9.30am on Tuesday and called Peter’s son Simon , who lives a 10-minute drive away.

Retired civil servant Simon said : “I opened the front door and the chain was still on so I had to force it. I smelled a rat as the house was cold and completely in darkness. I called for my father and got no response and walked up the stairs and found him lying on the floor of his bedroom.

“There was stuff all over the place and he was semi-conscious and breathing but could not talk. It was clear he had been beaten badly, he had bruises everywhere and was bleeding from his head.”

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Simon added : “I am lost for words on what to say about it. As a family member I am shocked, but as a human being I am lost for words about the man’s inhumanity for man.

“You read in the press about this kind of thing happening to other people, but you never think it will happen to your or a loved one. The people who did it need to be found and locked up – and the sooner the better so they cannot do the same thing to anybody else.”

Mr Gouldstone’s son-in-law, David Capstick, said he was “sickened” by the attack. Mr Capstick, a pharmacist, said his wife, Jane, 60, travelled from their home in Huddersfield, West Yorks., yesterday to be at his hospital bedside.

He told The Sun: “Presumably Peter was targeted. We can only assume that they knew he was alone and elderly and frail. And all for a TV. It must have been 15 years old. It was completely worthless.

“He has no cash in the place. My wife got the call on Tuesday and went down this morning. They’ve done what they’ve done for nothing. You can imagine what we think (of them).

“When you see the picture of him they have obviously given him a good hiding. It’s dreadful to see. When I saw the picture of him in hospital I was sickened. You can barely recognise him to be fair. He’s obviously been through some serious trauma.”

Dad-of-two Mr Capstick, whose wife is also a pharmacist, added: “He does very well for his age. He’s very independent, keeps himself to himself and he’s no problem at all. It’s all come as quite a shock.”

Peter was awarded three medals for service to his country, including the Italy Star for action in Italian campaigns including Monte Cassino.

He was a corporal in the Royal Signals Corps and in 1944 was mentioned in Despatches in The Gazette for “gallant and distinguished service in Italy.” Typically of that generation, Peter remained modest about his war heroics.

Peter worked as a telephone engineer for the GPO before moving into management and retiring in 1980 before it was taken over by British Telecom.

His wife of 65 years Joan, died in 2013. As well as Simon, Peter has a daughter Jane, who lives in Huddersfield, West Yorks, and two grandchildren.

Son Simon said : “He is a strong willed man, even at 98-years-old he was quite capable of washing, dressing and cooking. He just needed a bit help getting out of the house and walking isn’t his strong point


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“But he was perfectly comfortable living by himself. We are just in shock and upset to say the least. I don’t think anyone deserves something like this, especially at the back end of their life. “

A murder-style hunt was underway to find whoever attacked Peter.

Det Inspector Paul Ridley, said : “This was a brutal and senseless attack on a vulnerable pensioner in his own home. The level of violence used was completely excessive.”

He added that if the neighbour had not spotted Peter’s back door open and called his son, “I’m almost certain that Mr Gouldstone would have succumbed to his injuries.”

How you can help

The Sun has donated £5,000 to a fund to help Peter, and now we are calling on our kindhearted readers to help it get to £10,000.


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Police believe the break-in occurred between Bonfire Night and the early hours of the next morning but are unsure how many attackers there were or if they were in a vehicle.

DI Ridley said : “We don’t know why he was targeted and cannot work out why they carried out this heinous crime for a telly worth a tenner.”

Local Royal British Legion clubs condemned the brutal attack on the WW2 vet. Felicity Allen spokeswoman for the Southgate Branch called the attack ‘cowardly’, adding : “Peter served to give us the lives we enjoy today.

“I think it’s absolutely disgusting what happened to that poor man – it is cowardly. For a 98-year-old man to be attacked in that way, it is beyond disgraceful. If it was not for Peter and the brave actions of others, we wouldn’t be here. Those responsible should be caught and locked up.”

Muswell Hill and Highgate branch committee member Dave Rees added : “They should be strung up for what they have done. At the end of the day it was an attack on an old and defenceless person – it’s absolutely terrible to hear. How someone could do this during this time of Remembrance is beyond comprehension.”

Although Peter had not been burgled before, neighbours said robberies and break-ins were common and believe he was simply an easy target.

Pio Gomez, 77, said: Peter used to cross the street to me and say hi, he is a lovely man but I haven’t seen him a lot since his wife died. He has been like a hermit in his own home, it is very sad.

"He used to like gardening and I would often see him tending to his garden and he had a gardener for a short while as well. Now Simon, his son, goes round regularly. It is awful what as happened. Terrifying to think you’re not safe in your own home.”

Mum-of-one Florina Hutton, 37, said: “The attackers attacked him under the cover of fireworks at some point on Monday night. This area is very bad for robberies, my husband and I were robbed two years ago by a gang of kids in masks. The police came yesterday to look at our CCTV in our back garden, they said a group of robbers had attacked Peter.”

All money raised from the JustGiving page will be handed over to Mr Gouldstone’s family.

Peter’s son Simon is supporting The Sun’s campaign and is urging anyone with information about the callous attack to contact the police.

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