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Thieves steal man's independence

PUBLISHED: 18:00 24 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:08 03 March 2010

HEARTLESS thieves have robbed an MS sufferer of his independence after stealing his cherished electric wheelchair while he was collecting cash for other disabled people.

HEARTLESS thieves have robbed an MS sufferer of his independence after stealing his cherished electric wheelchair while he was collecting cash for other disabled people.

Good Samaritan Sean McManus today made a heartfelt plea for the return of his £3,000 top-of-the-range chair which was stolen while he was fundraising in Felixstowe town centre.

And the Evening Star today stepped in to help police catch the culprits who carried out the sickening crime – by offering a £250 reward for information leading to their arrest and conviction.

Mr McManus, who has suffered from MS for 22 years, has been left housebound by the loss of his chair, which had been donated to him.

The 67-year-old spent one and a half hours collecting for the MS Society outside the Solar Superstore on Saturday afternoon and so rewarded himself with a coffee at the Felixstowe Bowls Club.

He struggled into the Tomline Road club using his sticks and left the green-coloured Scandinavian Spectra wheelchair parked. But soon after he was alerted to youths playing with the chair and minutes later it was gone.

Devastated Mr McManus, of Earls Close, Felixstowe, said: "I can't believe it has happened. I am just speechless.

"I would just like to know if anyone has spotted it. Whether it has been found abandoned anywhere. People ran outside afterwards and scoured the town but couldn't find it.

"It is very strange because an electric wheelchair doesn't travel very fast. It has left me in a bad predicament.

"Whoever did this I feel really sorry for because they must have something wrong with them to take an electric wheelchair. It even disappeared before I got my coffee."

Without his two-year-old wheelchair Mr McManus has lost his independence. "It is like taking a blind man's cane away from him," he explained.

"Most days I like to go out for a bit but I am more or less housebound because of this.

"My wife, Grace, runs me about. But she is involved in the East Suffolk Community Health Council. It is charitable work and if she is left shifting me around it will curtail her activities.

"Whoever took a thing like this must realise how much I need it."

One possibility is that someone put the wheelchair in the back of a van and drove off with it.

"It is just ironic that someone took this when I was collecting for charity," said Mr McManus who has been involved with the MS Society for over 20 years.

Mrs McManus, who is chairman of the CHC, said they had scoured the town but failed to find the chair.

"He had only been in the club about ten minutes when a lad ran in and said someone had taken it. I'm just so upset. It's despicable."

Anyone with any information on theft please contact Suffolk Police on 01473 - 613500.

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