Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Fresh appeal over 1998 murder case

Charlie Strain was found dead in his flat in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim in 1998 (PSNI/PA)

Those who know who murdered a 28-year-old man in Carrickfergus almost 15 years ago must break their silence, police have urged as they reopened a cold case file into the killing.

The body of shift worker Charlie Strain was discovered in his flat in the Co Antrim town in the summer of 1998. Police said he had been subjected to a "brutal beating" to his head and body. He was found lying on a sofa by his father Charlie Strain Snr on June 3 - three days after he was last seen alive getting out of a taxi to walk to his flat at Carnhill Walk.

Mr Strain Jnr, who lived alone, was due to report for work at a local meat processing plant on the evening of Monday June 1. When he failed to report for work again the following night, his father became concerned and the next morning he forced entry into his son's flat and found his body.

Police said an investigation was carried out at the time and a renewed appeal for information was made in 2003. A number of people have been arrested but no-one has ever been charged in connection with the murder. Ahead of the 15th anniversary of the crime, detectives from the PSNI's Serious Crime Branch have reviewed the case and decided to re-open the investigation.

The officer in charge, Detective Inspector Peter Montgomery, said: "We have a number of pieces of evidence which lead me to believe that progress can still be made in this case, despite the passage of time. I believe there are people still in the area who know those responsible for the attack on Charlie which led to his death and who know about the events leading up to his death.

"I would appeal to anyone with knowledge about the events of those days at the end of May and start of June 15 years ago in Carnhill Walk and elsewhere to come forward and talk to us. Your information could provide us with the vital link to enable us to bring this investigation to a successful conclusion."

Police have made three specific appeals. First of all, detectives want to speak with anyone with information about the attack or about what led to the attack taking place.

Secondly, three 999 calls were made on Monday 1 June about an assault at different addresses within the Carnhill Walk block of flats but nothing suspicious was found. Public phone boxes at Bridewell Drive and Oakfield Drive in Carrickfergus were used to make the calls. Police want to know the identities of the men who made those three calls;

And finally, nvestigators also want to speak with anyone who saw Mr Strain on the evening of Sunday May 31, the last night he was seen alive. They want to talk to anyone who saw or spoke to Charlie in Chandlers Bar in Carrickfergus or later at the Tourist Inn at Eden.

Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives on 028 9070 0727 or 07585 228 283. Alternatively, people who do not want to provide their details can give information anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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