May 4 2011 by Johnathon Menzies, Stirling Observer Wednesday
BUS passengers could play a key role in tracing a vicious thug who hospitalised a Stirling pensioner and left another traumatised during a terror-filled afternoon, police have said.
Cornton Royal Navy veteran John Gillespie (88) was found injured in the underpass that leads to Lover’s Walk in the city’s Riverside area at around 2.50pm on Tuesday, April 19, and passed away a few days later in Stirling Royal Infirmary.
Mr Gillespie’s son, John Jnr, paid an emotional tribute to his much-loved father last week, and stated: “It’s not only our family who have been violated, but Stirling itself.”
It’s believed the popular grandad took the bus from Cornton into Stirling on the day he was attacked.
And officers are investigating the possibility that the suspect may have boarded a bus from Stirling into Callander later that day, prior to an incident involving a 70-year-old woman at around 5pm.
The second victim was left badly shaken but physically unharmed.
Posters featuring a picture of Mr Gillespie were distributed on buses running through the Cornton, Stirling and Callander areas at Stirling station yesterday (Tuesday).
The suspect is described as being 21-40 years old, around six-feet tall and of slim build, with short, dark hair. At the time of the incident, he was wearing a dark blue jumper and dark trousers.
Detective Inspector Ronnie Isles, the officer leading the investigation on behalf of Central Scotland Police, said he was confident the net was closing in on the culprit.
He said: “We’re still keen to gather information on Mr Gillespie’s movements before the incident and to speak to anyone who can assist us.
“We’ve been extremely pleased with the response we’ve already had from the public, but we know there are still some people who haven’t come forward.
“It may be the case that they don’t believe they have anything significant to tell us, but I would ask them to please let us be the judge of that.”
Chief Inspector Bob Beaton, who oversees policing in the Stirling area, urged members of the public not to panic.
Residents have previously told the Observer they feel “petrified” when using underpasses that link Riverside to Wallace Street.
He said: “Crimes in which the elderly are targeted are very rare in the Stirling area, although I can understand why people are concerned by what has happened.
“This appears to have been an opportunistic incident and officers are doing all they can to trace the person responsible and provide reassurance to the community.
“We are working in a very real and focused way to take forward a range of measures in the area, which it’s hoped will improve the general environment in that part of our community.
“We are aware of a range of issues in the northern side of the city, and we have been active in ensuring our community policing team and detectives have taken a robust approach to deal with them.”