Terminally-ill ex-serviceman who died in house fire 'plagued by yobs'

A TERMINALLY-ILL ex-serviceman, believed to have died in a house blaze in Yorkshire, was terrorised by yobs in the months leading up to his death.

Widower James Kirkpatrick, in his late 70s, of Birch Grove, Bilton, Harrogate, is thought to have been killed by a fire that tore through the semi-detached property in which he lived alone just after 1am yesterday.

Police have not yet confirmed the identity of the body they found inside.

Neighbours who live on the quiet residential street say they were told by police to keep an eye out for young yobs who were targeting Mr Kirkpatrick's home earlier this year.

It has also emerged that junior cadets from the Harrogate Army Foundation College, were invited by police to help clean up Mr Kirkpatrick's garden in July this year as a result of the abuse he had suffered.

Capt Laurence Roche, a spokesman for the college, said: "Junior soldiers from Cambrai Company teamed up with Harrogate police to transform the garden of a terminally-ill ex-serviceman.

"The 75-year-old man, who did not wish to be identified, had endured incidents of harassment, anti-social behaviour and damage to his property at the hands of local yobs.

"We were proud to have helped him out and are all very sad to hear this news."

Patrick Barker, who has lived opposite Mr Kirkpatrick for the past 13 years, said: "There had been problems with the local kids there and police had asked us to keep an eye out – we are all very shocked."

The fire was first spotted by two men in their 20s who were walking home from a night out and tried to alert him by banging on the door.

Police investigations are continuing but they say the anti-social behaviour problems were resolved earlier this year.