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Thursday 19 April 2018

Father-of-two was victim of 'particularly brutal murder'

Allan Preston

Detectives investigating the killing of a father in north Belfast have said he was the victim of a "particularly brutal murder".

Conor McKee (31) was discovered in an upstairs bedroom of his home in Glenpark Street by his mother at 10.30pm on Thursday.

Two men, aged 37 and 44 ,were arrested in connection with the crime on Friday night. The pair have been released on bail pending further enquiries.

Police appealed for information about a man seen in the vicinity of Conor's home around 6.15pm on Thursday evening.

Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway added: ""This has been a devastating tragedy for the McKee family, particularly traumatic for [Conor's] mum, dad and close family.

"[This was a] particularly brutal murder, all the more traumatic for his mother who found him."

"The investigation is ongoing and I would continue to appeal for anyone with any information to come forward and contact detectives on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."

The cause of death has not yet been established but a post mortem examination is due to be carried out.

Detective Galloway revealed that the father-of-two had been bailed for drug offences before Christmas, confirming that drugs and other lines of inquiry were being investigated, though paramilitary involvement had been ruled out.

"Conor's lifestyle will form a part of our investigation, but I want to stress there's absolutely no justification for what happened to Conor and what his family are now going through," he said.

"Regardless of what may have gone before, it's important that people in the Ardoyne area come forward and tell us what they know and what they saw in and around Conor's home ."

Officers investigating the crime made three specific appeals for information.

Firstly, they want to hear about the man seen near Conor's home in Glenpark Street on Thursday at around 6.15pm.

Police also asked an individual who contacted officers in the early hours of Friday morning to get back in touch with detectives as a matter of urgency.

Finally, detective Galloway asked Conor's friends to engage with the police to build up a better picture of his movements and lifestyle.

Police stayed with the heartbroken McKee family throughout Thursday night.

"They are completely devastated and in fact traumatised by what went on," detective Galloway said.

"Not only the family, but also the local community there. It's important that we not only take these persons off the streets but prevent such a thing from happening again."

Yesterday, there was a heavy police presence in the Glenpark Street area, with a security cordon placed around the red brick terraced house where Mr McKee's body was found.

Neighbours and friends of the family said they were shocked by the news.

One woman who spoke to the Belfast Telegraph added: "It makes you worry when you're living here about what could happen because nobody knows what the whole thing is about. I would be worried. The mummy was the one who found him."

"He was a lovely fella, very quiet. He kept himself to himself. We grew up together - I lived across the street from him as kids and we would have played together. They are a lovely family and very decent people."

Another man in the area who knows the McKee family said: "He was a lovely, quiet fella. Things like that, you don't expect them to happen on your own doorstep. I'd known him growing up. [He was a] nice young lad."

Another woman added: "I know him and his family. He has two wee children. He was a lovely fella. It's shocking for everybody. No one knows the true outcome of what has happened yet."

Alban Maginness, the SDLP MLA for North Belfast, said the murder has had a devastating effect on the family, which has lived in the area for generations.

"The family are long-standing in that community - it's quite an inter-connected community and this really has shattered them," he added.

"The mother is a highly respected lady, very active within the Unison trade union and has done some very fine work for the union members.

"It's particularly shocking as the Glenpark area is a very quiet residential area."

"There's been no trouble there for a very, very long period of time. People are quite rightly shocked by this murder, especially the family."

Belfast Telegraph

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