Published: 12:39, 13 October 2020
| Updated: 12:41, 13 October 2020
A hotel owner has told of his shock after one of his long-term guests was allegedly murdered.
Richard Williams, who runs The Burlington on Margate seafront, says the horror of what happened to Sidney Collier - a pensioner who had lived at the hotel on and off for the past four years - is still sinking in.
The 77-year-old was reportedly assaulted on the steps of the hotel in Buenos Ayres last Tuesday afternoon. He was rushed to hospital but doctors were unable to save his life.
Mr Williams has run the hotel since 2010, after taking over from his mum, who took it on in 1977.
It has 15 rooms which are used by holiday-makers but also people looking for a permanent place to live, who stay on a longer-term basis, like Mr Collier.
Mr Williams says the pensioner’s death has been a horrible shock.
“Sidney was just an old man who lived here who didn’t deserve to die,” he said.
“He was a bit grumpy; he liked to talk to the TV, mainly about politics.
“But he kept himself to himself.
“He didn’t really like people, although he was never rude, never violent.”
Mr Collier had just arranged to stay on at the hotel full-time while he waited for somewhere to live permanently.
He had been there as a long-term guest after turning up just before lockdown saying he needed a room.
Mr Williams said: “He needed to go on the housing list and so I said it was fine for him to live here and he said ‘you’re very kind to me’.”
Mr Williams is now in the process of sorting out Mr Collier’s room, which he says he is going to redecorate.
“I’m doing it for poor Sidney really,” he said.
“I packed his suitcase up in case we hear anything from family, but I don’t think he had any.
“What made me sad was when I was packing up his room, there was a microwave meal in the microwave, which looked like it was about to be cooked.
“I think what he’d done is put it in there, then gone over to the shop to get a can of beer to go with his dinner, but he never made it back to have it.”
Police are now trying to trace Mr Collier’s family.
Detective Inspector Garry Cook said: “We are appealing for the public’s help in order to locate the family of the victim.
“Significant enquiries have been carried out but despite our best efforts, on this occasion we have no further lines of enquiry that we can follow to identify his next of kin.
“We would therefore like to share this appeal with the public in the hope that someone may know him and can help us to reach his family as quickly as possible.
“We also want to hear from any witnesses who saw the assault take place on the steps of a hotel in the street or the victim’s movements in the hours leading up to the incident.
“Anyone who saw what happened or has CCTV or dashcam footage is urged to get in contact with us as soon as possible.”
David Harris, 61, who also lived at The Burlington, has been charged with the murder of Mr Collier.
He appeared at Medway Magistrate’s Court on Thursday and has been remanded in custody.
He is next due to appear on Thursday, November 5.
Anyone with information should call 01303 289600, quoting reference 46/179185/20. Film footage can be uploaded at mipp.police.uk.