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Death of homeless man at Salvation Army hostel the latest linked to drugs in NI

By Allan Preston

A 27-year-old man who died in a Belfast homeless hostel is believed to be the latest casualty in a series of drug deaths in recent weeks.

The man was a resident of the Salvation Army hostel at Centenary House when he died on Friday.

Three men, aged 33, 22, and 19, were arrested that afternoon and released on police bail pending further enquiries in the early hours of Saturday.

A fourth man, aged 33, was arrested on Saturday afternoon and has since been charged with possession of a class A controlled drug.

Detective Inspector Paul Rowland said: "Detectives carried out several searches of the premises over the weekend and a number of items were seized and taken away for further examination. Enquiries are ongoing at this time."

The Salvation Army said yesterday: "We are deeply saddened by the death of a service user from our Centenary House Lifehouse in Belfast. He was part of The Salvation Army family and our condolences and prayers are with his immediate family at this time.

"Our chaplain has been on site throughout the weekend, and our open-door policy of support has been used by several service users and staff who have been impacted by this death."

On September 16 Stevie McLaughlin, another resident at Centenary House, was found dead.

The cause is still being investigated.

The latest death follows a number of drug-related tragedies over the past month.

Last week a 34-year-old prisoner at Maghaberry died from an overdose in his cell on November 30.

He has yet to be named and investigations are ongoing.

The day before, 19-year-old Graham 'Speedy' Larsen from north Belfast was found dead from an overdose.

Six months ago his father Mark 'Gutsy' Campbell - a leading loyalist implicated in the sectarian murders of two Catholic workmen - died the same way.

On November 21 the body of Darren Taylor (36) was found in a flat in Coagh, Co Tyrone. An overdose is suspected.

The week before, 21-year-old Amy Reid died from drugs in the same block of flats.

On November 19 Jamie Burns (23), a student at Northern Regional College in Newtownabbey, died soon after collapsing at Queen's Students' Union.

His distraught father said he had taken an ecstasy tablet earlier in the evening.

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