Belfast Telegraph

Community reeling after fatal stabbing at party

By Adrian Rutherford

The heartbroken father of a young man stabbed to death at a house-warming party has described him as “a really good son”.

Michael McLaughlin (24), who was from the Toome area, died after being attacked at an apartment in Castledawson on Sunday night.

The attack is understood to have happened during a housewarming party at the apartment, which is on the Hillhead Road, just off the main Belfast to Londonderry road.

A man in his 20s was detained nearby shortly afterwards and was still being questioned by detectives last night.

Mr McLaughlin’s family, including his sister and girlfriend, laid flowers at the scene yesterday.

His father Kevin said he had been working as a plasterer before injuring his hand.

He described him as “a really good son”.

The murder has been strongly condemned by political representatives in the area.

Sinn Fein councillor Sean McPeake said there was no place for knife crime in society.

“Thankfully it is not a common offence here but incidents like this are just not on,” he said.

“Nothing like this has happened there before, and the area wouldn’t be used to any sort of serious crime.”

Mr McPeake said people were shocked by the violent death.

“A young life has ended needlessly in Castledawson last night and it’s a complete shock for the community,” he added.

Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone visited the scene yesterday and said the murder has sent shockwaves through the community.

“This is a quiet, small, rural town and people in Castledawson are extremely shocked that this murder has taken place in their midst,” he said.

“Nobody has the right to take life and we certainly do not want this kind of brutal violence in our community.”

Policing Board member Ian McCrea, who is an MLA for the area, said he “utterly condemned the horrific stabbing”.

“I was completely shocked and appalled to hear of this stabbing in Castledawson which left a young 24-year-old man dead,” he said.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time of loss; this tragic and untimely death will no doubt cause great sorrow within our community.”

Mid-Ulster MLA Billy Armstrong also expressed his condolences to the family of Mr McLaughlin.

“The death of this young man is a terrible event which has shocked the local community,” he said.

“Castledawson is a quiet town where most people know and get on well with their neighbours and this type of thing just does not happen here.”

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