The distressing last words of a former air stewardess who died after being burgled have been released as police hunt the criminals involved.

Maureen Whale, 77, was at home in Barnet on 4 December last year when two men broke into her house and stole her handbag.

She made a 999 call but collapsed while on the phone to the operator and was taken to hospital in a critical condition.

She died the next day.

Police are still looking for the men who broke in, and the case has now become a manslaughter investigation.

Ms Whale’s death was caused by coronary heart disease which was brought on by the stress of the crime.

The transcript of the 999 call Ms Whale made has been released, and in it she can be heard saying I’m shaking, I’m sorry.

She then said I can’t talk I’m sorry as the ambulance is called.

But the sound of Ms Whale breathing then stops, and the operator said: Maureen, it says on my screen that the police have arrived.

We’re going to be with you soon. Hello Maureen. The police should be there, we’re just around the corner.

Oh, Maureen, please answer me, please.

There is no response.

Her niece Gina said: Hearing the last phone call made by my aunt is extremely distressing but we hope that by releasing this to the public, someone, somewhere will be moved to come forward with information.

Our aunt was a fiercely independent woman who should have been safe in the home she had lived in all of her life.

No one deserves to die in this way and we urge anyone who can help bring these men to justice to come forward and assist police with their investigation.

Police are linking the break-in with three others which happened in the area on the same day. They have released CCTV footage showing two men entering her home, and the accomplice who was a lookout.

Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh appealed for information from anyone who recognises the burglars, either from CCTV or from a change in their behaviour.

He said: In December we found Maureen’s bag in a hedge on the outskirts of Ravenscroft Park and we are continuing to ask anyone who may have seen or been given the items stolen in the other burglaries on the same night to get in touch.

Suspect one is described as a man who wore a black body warmer over a light-coloured, long-sleeved top, with a dark woolly hat. He climbed over the outside gate, opened the gate and then went into the house.

The second man to go into the house wore a long-sleeved top with dark patches. He had a fur-trimmed hood up and wore dark trousers and light-coloured trainers.

The man who acted as a lookout at the window was wearing a long-sleeved, dark, hooded top or jacket. He had a baseball cap on underneath his hood and wore light-coloured jogging bottoms and dark trainers.

Police also want to speak to the driver of a four-door hatchback, possibly a Skoda Fabia, which travelled along Bells Hill past the suspects before the break-in.

There were two other burglaries in the road on the same evening and a third half-a-mile away in Sampson Avenue at earlier in the day at 11.45am. The are all being linked.

A £20,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the intruders.

:: Anyone with information should call 020 8785 8099, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

(c) Sky News 2019: ‘I can’t talk I’m sorry’: 999 call of woman who died after burglary