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Garden centre owner dies after discovering break-in

Published: 6 October 2014
John Watkinson, who owned Hillview Garden Centre and Hillside Tea Rooms in Thurlaston, had a heart attack and died last month as he investigated a burglary at the centre he set up almost 40 years ago.
Leicester Police are appealing for information about a burglary at the centre in Croft Road, Thurlaston, which took place sometime overnight between Tuesday, September 23 and 7am on Wednesday, September 24.

Police confirmed that Mr Watkinson, aged 71, arrived at the garden centre on the morning of September 24 and was taken ill. He suffered a fatal heart attack and was discovered by his concerned wife shortly after, when he had not returned home. Mr Watkinson was pronounced dead at the scene.

It is the second time the centre has been targeted by thieves, with the first burglary taking place on August 8, when cash, sweets and garden ornaments were taken. During the latest incident, the entire content of the pick and mix confectionery stand and freezer-load of ice cream were amongst the items stolen. Officers are looking into the possibility that the two incidents may be linked.

Mrs Watkinson said of the loss of her husband: "I am incredibly shocked and am finding it difficult to come to terms with what has happened."

This month she told The Hinckley Times: "At least he died where he was happiest. He had to retire due to ill health but he still kept his hand in... The coroner said he suffered a massive heart attack and that it could have happened at any time. I think probably finding the break-in tipped the balance. I am glad that I was the one to find him."

Police investigating the incident are urging people to come forward if they have any information or local rumours as to who may be responsible for the burglary. They are also asking if anyone has been approached by someone selling sweets in suspicious circumstances or has come across ice-cream containers discarded in the area.

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