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Eddie Girvan a decent man 'who was maybe too trusting'

By Claire McNeilly

To the residents of Greenisland he was simply Eddie, the retired plumber from down the road.

He had lived in the area for over half his life and was said to be as quiet and inoffensive as the Co Antrim loughside village itself.

People remember Eddie Girvan pottering around in his silver Hyundai car, on the hunt for bargain antiques.

Perhaps not the most gregarious of men, he lived alone for the final three years of his life following the death of his partner, but was polite and friendly when spoken to.

And when somebody needed a job done, the father of two girls rarely refused.

His hobbies included collecting antiques and he was well-known to the local dealers through frequenting their shops.

He valued his privacy, though, and had CCTV cameras installed at his home.

“Eddie was always there to help anyone in trouble,” his long-term friend John Milliken recalled.

“I had known him for about 30 years; he had a good heart. He was very good at anything he turned his hand to.”

Mr Milliken told the Belfast Telegraph that the 67-year-old was “brilliant with his hands”, “interested in loads of things” and “had a great mind”.

“I think he would have loved to have been a mechanic as he loved motorbikes and rode grass track in his younger days,” said Mr Milliken.

“There was nothing mechanical that he couldn’t work with or fix.”

In the three decades of their friendship, Mr Milliken said Eddie — affectionately nicknamed ‘Plumb’ by friends because of his trade — was drawn to people who were struggling, and was always willing to help.

“Eddie was a kind man, but I felt that sometimes folks could take advantage of his kindness and his goodness,” he added.

Mr Milliken told how Mr Girvan had been in a relationship for 13 years after his marriage to Heather ended.

However, his partner had passed away around three years before his own death, adding that “life had been tougher for Eddie after his lady friend died”.

Another family friend, Richard Meeke, described the pensioner’s death as “tragic” and said it was a “great loss to the family and to Greenisland”.

Eddie, who is survived by two daughters, Martina and Amanda, was also well-known to local Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson.

The pair had attended Greenisland Primary School and the Boys Brigade together.

“He was a lovely guy, a local handyman who was well-known throughout the community,” said Mr Dickson.

“He was a really nice person, very popular. Everyone in the local area knew Eddie and he was one of those men who would always stop and talk to you.

“His teenage daughters were in our local Guides.”

Mr Dickson added: “He was a very friendly individual but, if anything, he was maybe too trusting.”

Tragically for his family and friends, Eddie’s many qualities are not what immediately spring to mind when his name is mentioned in the Greenisland area now.

Those who live there recall the shock of hearing about his death, and the grim scene encountered by police officers when they entered his home at Station Road in January of last year.

Detectives found him seated, his shorts around his ankles, his hands and ankles bound together with neckties and his mouth stuffed with kitchen roll, blocking his airways.

He had sustained several stab wounds, including a serious injury to his chest that resulted in internal bleeding.

In a bail application for Margaret Henderson-McCarroll last November, a court heard claims that his death was the result of an argument over money for sex.

Yesterday, 31-year-old Henderson-McCarroll admitted the pensioner’s manslaughter, just as she was about to go on trial for murder.

The prosecution accepted the plea “on the grounds of diminished responsibility” from the mother-of-two, who has a long history of drug addiction.

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