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How can anybody hurt our Bobby?

Byline: By Anna Hammond South Wales Echo

The family of Bobby Burton, who was beaten and left for dead in his home, today spoke of the 'sickening' attack.

The 63-year-old is still fighting for his life after being beaten a week ago in his Butetown flat.

Cousin Pauline Porter said today : 'He wouldn't have had the strength to fend off an attack.' 'Just no excuse for the attack': Seeing a loved one in a hospital bed unconscious and battered to within an inch of their life is a harrowing experience.

Knowing that such a frail person would not have been able to defend themselves as they were brutally and repeatedly hit across the head only makes it all the more painful.

But that is the situation in which Irene Ash and Pauline Porter now find themselves courtesy of a man - who police believe to be 33-year-old Dominic Abdi - who violently attacked their cousin Bobby Burton and then went on the run.

It's been a week since the 63-year-old was found in his flat and today, tearful and shaken, his family have taken the brave step of speaking publicly about the attempted murder which has shocked a community.

Last Tuesday was just another day for Irene, 53, and Pauline, 63, but by 7.30pm they were in the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, looking in disbelief at their beloved Bobby.

'When I first saw Bobby I was horrified,' said Pauline, who lives just a stone's throw from the crime scene in Butetown, Cardiff, which is still sealed off.

'We didn't know what to expect but when I saw him I couldn't believe that somebody could hurt somebody else so much.

'Bobby is so slight, a gust of wind would blow him over. I know he would have fought back but he wouldn't have had the strength to fend off an attack like that.

'The first blow would have put him down but to keep on doing it is sickening.'

Bobby, a well-known personality from the old docklands area of Cardiff, remains critically ill following the attack in his home in Loudoun House, Loudoun Square.

The popular former merchant seaman, who is of Afro-Caribbean origin, was found with severe head and body injuries at his third-floor flat at around 4pm last Tuesday.

South Wales Police who are treating the attack as attempted murder originally remained tight-lipped about any possible suspects, but took the rare decision to release a picture of prime suspect Dominic Abdi, also of Butetown, after deeming him a danger to the public.

Visibly traumatised, Irene, who lives in Llanrumney, said the family were at a loss as to why anyone could do this to a vulnerable man who generally kept himself to himself.

'There's no excuse whatsoever for doing this to Bobby, or to anyone,' she said.

'Bobby was a bit argumentative but he wasn't violent.'

The hunt for the wanted man has now grown nationwide after a search of a train in Cardiff Central Station that police believed Abdi had boarded last week proved to be fruitless.

But despite no sightings of Abdi - who police have also linked to an armed robbery at a Chepstow hotel - Bobby's devastated cousins remain confident the person responsible will be caught.

Pauline added: 'The police are pulling out all the stops and we are confident the person responsible with be brought to justice. Eventually he will run out of places to hide.

'If anybody has any information please help, and if the person responsible is reading this, then just give yourself up.' 'An over-generous character': Bobby Burton is known for being a bit of a character.

He is at his happiest in the local community centre sipping a pint and reminiscing with his old chums from their time in the Merchant Navy.

But he is also someone who likes to spend time alone, not so much a loner, but happy just to be Bobby. Born and brought up in Butetown, he lived in a maisonette with parents Muriel and Robert and his younger sister Norma, now 60 and living in America.

His cousin Irene said: 'He had his own little ways.

'I would describe him as generous, he could be over-generous. He was silly with his money. He would squander it. He could be a laugh, too.'

Since Bobby was found last Tuesday, neighbours, friends and associates have been open in their affection for him. Never a cross word one woman said, a friendly chap said another.

Although his cousins are visiting Bobby in hospital, such are the extent of his injuries there hasn't been a flicker of communication.

A far cry from the proud man a few years back who once had a speaking part in a television adaptation of the Shakespeare play The Tempest with a cast made up of Butetown people.

Once a fit man but now someone, like many men of his age, suffering with aches and pains, he has a bad hip and a plate in his shoulder.

'People are very shocked that this has happened,' said his cousin Pauline, who also lives in Butetown.

'They are horrified it has happened and that the main suspect is a local boy.' Gun pulled on hotel manager: A hotel manager has told how a gunman stole pounds 3,000 from the safe and then threatened to 'blow a hole' in him.

Gareth Collins, 35, was doing the staff's wages at the hotel when he realised the man had taken the cash from the safe.

He chased the armed robber, suspected to be Abdi, but when he finally caught up with him the suspect pulled out a revolver and threatened to shoot him.

Mr Collins was working at his father Mike's hotel, the Beaufort in Chepstow, on Friday morning, when the man who had stayed the night appeared in reception.

'I saw him come from behind the reception desk but thought he was paying the bill,' said Mr Collins, a former Royal Marine.

'As soon as he got to the back door he bolted and I thought he was doing a runner.

'Then I saw the safe and realised.

'He'd been asking staff to put things in there for him and watching which key they used.'

He finally caught up with the gunman in a nearby Tesco car park where he came face to face with the gun.

After calling the police, Mr Collins continued chasing him but lost him when he went into a tunnel.

It is believed the robber went into a restaurant before escaping in a taxi.

It was thought he was then heading to Cardiff prompting armed police to swoop on Cardiff Central railway station and all trains coming into the city to be stopped.

But he has not been seen since. Who to call with information on Dominic Abdi: Just who is Dominic Abdi?

From Butetown in Cardiff, he may also be known as Dominic Hassan.

He is 33, 5ft 8in tall, of medium build, is clean-shaven and has receding close-cropped hair.

Police want to hear from anybody who:

Knows where Dominic Abdi is;

Saw Mr Burton between 9am and 4.15pm on Tuesday; or

Noticed anything suspicious in Loudoun Square, Butetown, between 1.30pm and 4.15pm that day.

Anybody with information is asked to contact the incident room on 029 2057 1530 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 9, 2006
Words:1224
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