Belfast Telegraph

Family of barracks death soldier Corporal Geoffrey McNeill pay tribute as murder probe is launched

By Chris Kilpatrick

A Northern Irish soldier believed to have been murdered at an Army base in England touched the lives of all who met him, his distraught family have said.

Police launched a murder investigation following the discovery of the body of Royal Irish Regiment soldier Corporal Geoffrey McNeill.

The 32-year-old was found at barracks in Tern Hill, near Market Drayton in Shropshire, on Saturday morning.

No details regarding the circumstances of Mr McNeill's death have been released as yet.

A 23-year-old man, a serving soldier, was arrested on suspicion of murder and remained in police custody last night.

Mr McNeill was born in Ballymoney, Co Antrim, and grew up in nearby Coleraine.

One of his three brothers, Jason McNeill, spoke of his family's devastation and added how Geoff had "served his country with the highest degree of honour and dedication".

He added: "He was a much-loved son, brother, uncle and friend and touched the lives of all who had the pleasure of meeting him.

"Our love for him remains as strong as ever. Rest in peace, soldier."

On his Facebook page Jason begged anybody with information regarding his brother's death to come forward.

"Anything no matter how insignificant you think it might be," he added.

"Share this in the hope that it can trigger someone's memory or conscience, we will not rest until we get justice."

A post-mortem examination was held on Sunday and further tests and examinations will be carried out to establish the cause of death, West Mercia police said.

Detective Inspector Steve Tonks added: "The investigation is in its early stages and extensive inquiries are continuing.

"I am appealing for any information which might assist the police investigation."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said the department was helping police with their investigation.

He added: "Our thoughts are with the family, but it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

Mr McNeill was a past pupil of Coleraine Boys' Secondary School.

North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey said he was saddened by the news.

He said: "Every soldier and their family recognises the risks associated with serving their country in a wartime deployment, but for this tragic incident to have occurred in barracks makes it even more shocking."

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