Wednesday 23 January 2019

Dad-of-five stabbed to death on street described as a 'big gentle giant'

Karol Kelly
Karol Kelly

Leona O'Neill

A father-of-five stabbed to death on a Derry street has been described as “a big gentle giant”.

Karol Kelly (35) from the Beechwood area of the city died after an altercation with several men outside a house in Grafton Street.

It is believed his neck and face were slashed from his mouth to behind his ear and he was stabbed five times in the abdomen.

The attack happened at 2.40am yesterday in the quiet residential street, which is popular with young families and students at the nearby Ulster University.

Mr Kelly died in the back of an ambulance and his body was kept inside the vehicle in the sealed-off street for almost 12 hours before undertakers were able to remove it.

Police have launched a murder investigation and arrested three men aged 27, 20 and 19 in connection with the incident. They removed a silver Ford van from the street for forensic examination and were yesterday searching a nearby alleyway for the murder weapon.

Tributes poured in yesterday for the Derry father, who was described as a “big gentle giant who would have given you the coat off his back” and “a gentleman”.

In a Facebook post, Mr Kelly’s younger brother Paul wrote that his brother was now “at peace”.

“In the early hours of this morning, my big brother was taken from this earth very quickly and very tragically,” he said.

“At this sad time, myself and my family take great comfort in knowing that he is at peace with himself now and in a far happier place, even given the nature of his death.”

He added: “For now, RIP ‘Big Bruv’ and sleep tight, your demons have now left you to peace.”

SDLP MLA Mark Durkan, who visited the victim’s father Fran and his mother Philomena yesterday, said that they were “distraught” at the loss.

“The family are reeling at what has happened,” he said. “They are still in a real state of shock. The enormity of this tragedy will only sink in in the coming days, weeks, months and beyond.”

Foyle MP Elisha McCallion said that Rosemount was a community in shock.

“The community in the Rosemount area and indeed the wider city has been shocked by this incident,” she said.

“My thoughts are with the family and friends of this man and I want to express my condolences to them at this sad time.

“The PSNI has now launched a murder inquiry and I would encourage anyone with any information that can help that investigation to get in contact with the police.”

A spokesperson for the PSNI said that three men had been arrested and appealed for anyone with information on the incident to contact them.

Detective Chief Inspector Alan Dickson from PSNI Major Investigation Team said: “We are working to establish the circumstances of this incident and determine the precise sequence of events that culminated in the tragic death of this man.

“I would appeal to anyone who was in the Grafton Street or Park Avenue areas of Derry this morning between 2.30am and 3am to get in touch by calling 101, quoting reference number 243 04/03/18.”

Belfast Telegraph

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