08:00 Thursday 20 December 2012

Attack victim gun tragedy

Written byBY HELEN KREFT

A 78-YEAR-OLD man who was subjected to a terrifying ordeal at the hands of dangerous criminals two years ago has been found dead, in a suspected suicide.

Police were called to a home in Acresford Road, Overseal, on Tuesday at 2.35pm, to reports of a sudden death and recovered a fire arm at the scene.

The man is believed to be Don Southerd who spoke to the Mail earlier this year after the last of a group of violent criminals was jailed for his part in a terrifying attack on Mr Southerd on February 19, 2009.

A friend of Mr Southerd, who lived with him in the eight months leading up to his death said he was &8216;shell shocked and gutted&8217; at what has happened, after he found him at his home.

The friend said he was too upset to call the police himself so asked another friend to report the death.

The 37-year-old, who did not want to be named, said: &8220;The attack knocked years off his life. I am just shocked but I am also relieved for him because he is now out of pain and he doesn&8217;t have to be feeling sick and ill anymore.&8221;

A Derbyshire police spokesman said: &8220;We were called to reports of a sudden death in Acresford Road, Overseal, on Tuesday at 2.35pm, where we found the body of a man.

&8220;He was found inside the house and a fire arm was found with him.

&8220;There are no suspicious circumstances and we have passed the informed to the coroner.&8221;

Mr Southerd had recently suffered with prostate cancer and was awaiting test results of a new possible condition which were due tomorrow.

The businessman recently opened his heart to the Mail in an interview following the sentencing of two men.

Vasile Mihai was sentenced to 11 years and six months following a trial at Derby Crown Court in March, this year.

The defendant, who had been on the run in Europe for three years, was originally charged with robbery on March 6, 2009, before fleeing the country after being granted bail.

The 25-year-old was one of three people arrested after Mr Southerd was assaulted and a substantial amount of money stolen from his home during the robbery

Another man, Romanian immigrant Gheorghita Loardache, was jailed in 2009 for his role in the attack which saw Mr Southerd punched unconscious, beaten with a baseball bat, threatened with a knife and his own shotgun, dragged around his home and left bound to a chair in the freezing cold.

A third man was later released without charge.

Mr Southerd, who has run Emerald Green Turf supplies for 45 years, suffered broken ribs, a ruptured liver, severe bruising and concussion.

Police have passed the case to Derby and South Derbyshire Coroners&8217; Court and said it is thought there are no suspicious circumstances.

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