Tuesday 19 February 2019

Two arrested over murder of man (30) found dead in alley

Pat Ward: police have arrested a suspect known to the Sligo man
Pat Ward: police have arrested a suspect known to the Sligo man

Robin Schiller and Gerry McLaughlin

PSNI detectives investigating the murder of a Sligo native have arrested a young man known to the victim.

The body of Pat 'Big Bang' Ward (30) was found on Saturday morning in an alleyway at McCrea Park, Clogher in Co Tyrone.

He was known to gardaí and was linked to people involved in an ongoing Traveller feud between two families, which claimed the life of his brother.

In recent months he is believed to have relocated to Northern Ireland from Sligo.

The PSNI confirmed that a murder investigation into Mr Ward's death is underway, and two people have been arrested as part of the police probe.

A 23-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman have been arrested on suspicion of murder. A source told the Irish Independent that the young man being quizzed by detectives is also originally from the Sligo area, and was well-known to the victim.

"They would have been considered friends, and there was no suggestion they had recently fallen out or become involved in a dispute," the source said.

Mr Ward is the second member of his family to die violently.

In 2007, his brother Tom Ward (27) was murdered in a hatchet attack outside his Sligo home.

That killing was linked to an ongoing feud in the Sligo area, but at this stage there is nothing to suggest the murder of Pat Ward is connected to the same dispute.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter McKenna, from the PSNI's Major Investigation Team, said: "The body of a man was discovered in an alleyway in McCrea Park in the town at around 8.15am... A post-mortem examination has yet to take place but I am treating his death as murder.

"A 33-year-old female and a 23-year-old male have been arrested on suspicion of murder and remain in police custody at this time.

"I am appealing for anyone who was in the area of McCrea Park [on Friday] night or early [Saturday] morning and who witnessed any unusual activity or anyone with any information that can assist my investigation to contact detectives on 101 quoting reference 403 09/02/19."

Sligo Fine Gael representative Blaine Gaffney went to school with Mr Ward and expressed his shock. "I knew Pat from attending the Mercy Primary School in Sligo and I know his extended family here who still live in Sligo.

"My thoughts and condolences go to the family. I would call on anyone with information about this incident to contact the PSNI."

Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew said that there was palpable shock in the area.

She said: "News that a man's body was found in an alleyway in the McCrea Park area of Clogher has shocked the local community.

"The PSNI have said they are treating this as a murder investigation."

Irish Independent

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