A Dungannon teenager whose father was stabbed to death after attending her 18th birthday party last night left an emotional tribute at the scene of his murder.
Eamonn Hughes’ three children, including 18-year-old Siobhan, each laid a pink rose where their dad was ambushed by a gang as he walked home with family and friends from the party at the Irish National Foresters’ bar on Scotch Street.
Five people arrested in connection with the killing remained in police custody last night. They were detained within hours of the attack in the early hours of Saturday morning. Three others have been released on bail pending further inquiries.
The road leading into the estate where Mr Hughes was attacked was reopened yesterday although an alleyway between a section of nearby houses remained sealed off.
Siobhan’s rose had a poignant message attached to it. She wrote: “Miss you daddy. I want you back. Love you always, your daughter Siobhan.”
According to local sources, the group was ambushed by a notorious gang who were travelling in two stolen cars. As Eamonn lay dying in the street people who rushed to his aid were then attacked.
One of the vehicles was driven directly at the group, injuring a mother and daughter, while the victim’s son Kevin was also badly hurt after being shot in the arm with a crossbow bolt.
Mr Hughes had lived in Dungannon all his life. He was married to Eileen and the couple had three children. The family were too upset to speak to reporters yesterday.
Local parish priest, Dean Colum Curry, said they had been devastated by the murder.
“Eamonn and his family would be very well-known and respected here in Dungannon. I have spoken to his wife very briefly and she is obviously devastated and terribly shocked.
“There is a sense of disbelief because they were celebrating their daughter’s 18th birthday. To come from a celebration to something as tragic as this is very, very difficult.”
Neighbours described Mr Hughes as a “generous family man”. One resident described the scene as “a battlefield”.
Superintendent Brian Williamson, who is leading the murder investigation, said: “This was a vicious attack and a despicable crime.
“A family is having to deal with the loss of a loved one. We are determined to bring all those responsible for this heinous crime before the courts.”
He appealed for anyone in the area at the time of the murder to come forward. Police are also seeking information about a beige Avensis saloon taxi, registration X463 CDY, which was found burnt out in the ‘Ponderosa’ area of the town.
This is the second tragedy to hit the family. In 1990 Eamonn’s father Frank was murdered by the UVF after collecting a bogus taxi fare at the Glengannon Hotel.
No-one was ever charged although deceased leading loyalists Billy Wright and Mark Fulton were later implicated.
The murder of Eamonn Hughes is the latest in a series of violent attacks in the town.
Local MP Michelle Gildernew said her thoughts and prayers were with the Hughes family.
“The attack which took place on Saturday morning was one of the worst I have heard of. The people who carried it out need to face the full force of the law. They have been a cancer in our society and they must never be allowed to terrorise the people of Dungannon again.”
Councillor Barry Monteith, a close friend of the victim, added: “It’s an absolutely disgusting act.”