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Tuesday 18 September 2018

Community in shock as mum-of-three and 'best friend' found dead in house

Best friends Kelly Watters (43) and Stuart Robinson (31)
Best friends Kelly Watters (43) and Stuart Robinson (31)

Victoria Leonard

Drug dealers have "blood on their hands" after a mum-of-three and her best friend died in Belfast at the weekend, it has been claimed.

It is understood drugs were a factor in the deaths of Kelly Watters (43) and Stuart Robinson (31).

Their bodies were found in a house on Klondyke Street in the Shankill on Saturday night.

Police are investigating the deaths, which are not being treated as suspicious at this time, and post-mortems will take place.

Last night a shocked neighbour who had known Mr Robinson since childhood said that he and Kelly had been "best friends" and were "inseparable".

"This has been absolutely devastating," she said.

"Stuart was a lovely person - he was quiet and he was getting over the death of his dad Frankie, who passed away of a lung condition a few months ago.

"He didn't seem himself after his dad passed away, although he was a bubbly person and quite set in his ways.

"He has two brothers and two sisters and he grew up in this area.

"I have known him since he was at primary school, and he went on to study at Belfast Boys' Model School.

"I couldn't believe it when I heard he had passed away.

"The first thing I knew about it was when I saw his cousin and Kelly's cousin crying outside the house, and they said they had died.

"I saw one of Kelly's sons at the house after it happened - it will be very hard for all three of them now.

"If it had been a party house you might have expected something like that, but it wasn't like that at all.

"I have heard that drugs might have been involved in the deaths, and if so that's really scary. There are a lot of young kids around here."

Another resident, who has lived on the street for nearly a decade, said she would "never have dreamed" that such an incident could have happened in the quiet neighbourhood.

"When I saw the police officers and the forensic officers coming out in white suits I knew that there had been deaths, and I couldn't believe it," she said.

"It's very sad for Stuart's mummy to have lost her son. She will take this very hard... and for Kelly's children to lose their mummy."

She added: "They only buried Stuart's dad about six months ago, and he was in his 50s." A third neighbour said he had witnessed police rushing to the scene on Saturday evening.

"I saw two peelers get out of a car and run past, then they went into the house," he said.

"The Robinsons are a nice family and they didn't deserve this, especially so soon after Stuart's dad died."

Pastor Jack McKee of New Life City Church expressed his condolences to the families and friends of the two.

Posting on social media, he urged the local community to "rise up" in order to "end this death trade in our midst".

He stated: "Heartbreaking time at New Life City Church this morning as we shared the news of the sudden death of Kelly Watters, daughter of our very own Stevie Watters, and also of the death of her friend Stuart Robinson.

"We prayed for Stevie and for both families. We prayed for everyone in our community who is being seduced and destroyed by drugs.

"We prayed also for drug dealers that the Spirit of God will give them a glimpse of eternity in Hell, in the hope it would turn them away from their death trade.

"May we not only show compassion towards families that have lost loved ones in this manner, but may we also have the boldness to rise up as a united community to end this death trade in our midst.

"We at New Life City Church are bold enough to believe we can help make this happen, and will do what we can to end this scourge."

Steven Pollock (38), a co-ordinator for Greater Shankill Action for Community Transformation (ACT), slammed the influx of drugs into the area.

He claimed that residents hooked on drugs were having illegal prescription and synthetic drugs delivered to their doors in "discreet packages".

"It's a bad situation on the Shankill with the drugs," he said.

"People are dicing with death, it is a real cocktail of death that they are taking.

"They don't even have to go outside their doors; it's posted to them, making it easier for addicts to access.

"You have synthetic substances shipped from manufacturers across Europe and China.

"A lot of prescription drugs are also bought online.

"It makes me despair as a community worker, and it angers you."

He claimed that the "dogs on the street" were aware of the identities of drug dealers in the area, but said that there had been a "lack of action" and "urgency" by the police.

"I would urge people to report drug dealing to the police, or to speak to us and we will report it on their behalf. But a lot of people have said that they did report it and the police didn't take action," he said.

"There doesn't seem to be an urgency on the police's part.

"The dogs in the street know who the dealers are.

"The drug dealers have blood on their hands - they know what they are doing and they don't care. They are just after the pound signs."

He said that it had become "nearly normal for people to go out and have a few drinks and a couple of lines of cocaine".

"Even harder drugs like cocaine seem to be viewed more as recreational drugs these days," he added.

Mr Pollock accused the Department for Communities of standing in the way of ACT's plans to use the former Forum for Action on Substance Abuse (FASA) building in the Shankill for its drugs prevention work, claiming that "lives could have been saved" if it had been granted permission sooner.

He said that the FASA building was sold at auction to a private buyer in November 2016, and that his group has an agreement with the new owner to host three anti-drugs groups there.

However, he claimed that the Department for Communities had prevented its efforts, citing "legal reasons".

He continued: "We have secured funding to move into the FASA building and turn it into a community hub.

"We are looking to tackle substance abuse and drugs rehabilitation and to bring in three different substance abuse support groups.

"These deaths again highlight the demand which exists in the Shankill area for these services.

"How many lives could have been saved if this had been in place?

"People are screaming for help."

The Department for Communities said that it had provided grant funding to FASA to purchase the building in the Shankill on the condition that a covenant be applied restricting its use to services addressing drug and alcohol misuse. "The purpose of this covenant was to protect the public funding invested in the project," the department said.

"The new owner of the property purchased it with this covenant in place.

"The owner has proposed uses for the property that impact on the terms of the covenant and the department is currently seeking legal advice which will inform our response to the plans for the use of the building.

"We expect that the department will be in a position to make a response in the near future and we will contact all the interested parties and advise them accordingly."

Chief Inspector Stephen Burns said that police in Belfast were "fully committed to dealing with the issue of drugs across the district".

He added: "The efforts of local police, supported by colleagues in Serious and Organised Crime Branch, are all contributing towards keeping the community in the area safe and drugs being taken off the street.

"Police will continue to disrupt and arrest drugs dealers involved in the sale and supply of drugs, bring individuals before the courts and work with communities and partner agencies to reduce the threat of harmful and illegal activity.

"I would ask everyone for their support and co-operation in tackling this problem through the criminal justice system.

"If you see or know of anyone who is dealing drugs in your local area, contact your local police on 101, or call 999 in an emergency.

"Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.

"Our advice is very simple - do not take illegal drugs; do not take prescription medication that has not been prescribed for you and do not mix either with alcohol.

"The consequences of ignoring this advice can be life-threatening.

"If you know of anyone who is dealing in illegal drugs, please contact police immediately.

"I do not want officers calling with families of loved ones to deliver the heartbreaking news that someone is seriously ill, or has died, as a result of drug or substance abuse.

"Drugs bring misery to individuals, families and communities.

"The consumption and mixing of illegal drugs can be a lottery of death."

Belfast Telegraph

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