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Ballycastle murder: Anthony McErlain's sister pays tribute to victim of brutal killing

By Chris McCullough

Published 30/01/2016

Police at the scene following the death of 48-year-old Anthony McErlain in Ballycastle
Police at the scene following the death of 48-year-old Anthony McErlain in Ballycastle
Forensic experts at the murder scene in Ballycastle

The sister of murdered Ballycastle man Anthony McErlain has paid a warm tribute to her brother, saying she "loved him deeply".

Police investigating the murder of Anthony on Thursday night in Broombeg View said he suffered a traumatic and frightening death.

His sister Rosemary Morton told the Belfast Telegraph that his problems with alcohol overtook him, but he did not deserve to die the way he did.

She said: "I loved him deeply. He had a lot of problems with alcohol and we were trying to support him.

"Anthony is the first of my 10 siblings to pass away and our entire family is very sad. He was his own worst enemy with the alcohol, as it was taking over.

"Anthony was very intelligent and worked all his days as a labourer.

"He helped build the Channel Tunnel and worked all over England, Wales and latterly in the Republic of Ireland.

"When the problems with alcohol really took over three years ago we brought him up to Ballycastle to give him support.

"We are all very shocked about it, but we are comforted by the fact the police are on the ball and have arrested a man over this terrible murder.

"Anthony did not deserve that. He was a human being. No one deserves that."

The area around the upstairs flat in Broombeg View remained cordoned off for most of yesterday as detectives and forensic officers conducted their searches.

The body of the 48-year-old was found in an upstairs flat.

The police have arrested two men, 33-year-old man and a 50-year-old man, on suspicion of murder.

PSNI Detective Inspector Clara Heaton said: “Detectives from Serious Crime Branch investigating the murder of 48-year-old Anthony McErlain have been given additional time by a court to question the 33-year-old man arrested on Friday, January 29.

Police have been granted a further 26 hours to continue interviewing him.

“The 50-year-old man arrested yesterday, Friday, January 29 still remains in police custody.”

Locals described Mr McErlain as an "alcoholic" and a "harmless individual". Others described him as "more of a nuisance than anything else".

One woman, who preferred to remain anonymous, speaking near the Diamond in the town, said: "I knew Anthony, or Tony as he was more better known as.

"He would have sat every day around the Diamond area of the town drinking away. You would see him there quite often. It's shocking what has happened to him. It's really sad."

It is understood Mr McErlain had two daughters, but he was living alone in the flat. He moved there following a fire that burned out his previous bungalow in Glentaisie Drive, just a few metres away, last September.

Pub owners in Ballycastle told the Belfast Telegraph that while Mr McErlain was a heavy drinker, he was not permitted into many bars in the town.

His sister said that she had told many of the premises and shops in the town which sold alcohol to refrain from serving Anthony for "his own sake".

Local Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane said Anthony's family were well-known in the area.

She added: "He was such a harmless man who was well-known. The community is reeling from this horrendous attack.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this sad time."

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Talbot said: "While we are awaiting the results of a post-mortem, what is clear is that Mr McErlain suffered a traumatic and frightening death. I initially described this killing as a heinous crime and I stand by that assessment.

"The investigation team is extremely keen to speak to witnesses or anyone who may have spoken to Mr McErlain over recent days.

"We would especially like to hear from anyone who was in the Broombeg area at any time between 5pm and 8.30pm on Thursday and who may have witnessed or overheard an altercation or disturbance in or around number 4 Broombeg View.

"The investigation team can be contacted on 101. Or if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can call anonymously on 0800 555 111."

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