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Gerard Quinn death: Police charge 16-year-old with murder

Priest says family are struggling with enormity of death after Derry house party ends in violence

By Chris McCullough and Jonny Bell

Published 23/05/2016

Gerard Quinn
Gerard Quinn
Forensic officers at the scene in Derry yesterday morning where Gerard Quinn was fatally stabbed

Police have charged a 16-year-old with murder over the death of Gerard Quinn at a house party in Londonderry.

The teenager was arrested at around midnight yesterday in relation to Mr Quinn's death at Milldale Crescent, Londonderry on Saturday night.

Sources said Mr Quinn may have been stabbed in the neck with a broken bottle after a house party descended into violence shortly before 10.30pm.

A neighbour who lives across the street told the Belfast Telegraph that another 24-year-old man, said to be Mr Quinn's twin brother, was also hurt in the altercation.

His injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

The family's priest  said they are struggling to come to terms with the enormity of the death.

Father Michael Canny from Waterside parish visited the Quinn family on Sunday. He told the BBC they were struggling to come to terms with the "enormity of the loss".

"It's another tragedy in the city. I was horrified to hear of the murder and yesterday afternoon I went to visit the family and I have to say it's a scene of complete and total devastation.

"The parents and the extended family are really struggling to come to terms with the enormity of actually what has happened.

"That somebody who was young, someone who was very special and important to them, their life has been snuffed out in such a terrible manner," he said.

Manager of Nierin football club Jimmy McAlister, for which Gerard played described him as a fun-loving character who was well liked in the dressing room. As a mark of respect, the club has postponed its weekend games.

"It's devastating, heartbreaking, he's got a young kid of his own and it's just a complete shock to everybody," Mr McAllister told the BBC.

"He was fun loving, he played football with a smile on his face you know? He was one of the characters in the changing room that everybody liked.

"Everybody round here knows everybody else so the whole estate will be feeling it today and for a long time to come."

Friends took to social media to pay tribute to Mr Quinn.

Emma Dobbins said: "Can't get my head round it Gerard Quinn.

"So funny n kind. I will never forget this night."

Agnes Miroslawska said he always made her laugh.

"I'm still in shock. I really can't believe it. It's so sad to see another young life taken far too soon.

"Thinking of your family at this really sad time."

Another wrote: "It's a crazy world we all live in. Another life taken too soon. RIP Gerard."

Police were on the scene minutes after the attack, but a neighbour claimed it had taken an ambulance 30 minutes to arrive.

However, a spokesman for the Ambulance Service said: "We took the call at 10.25pm and had paramedics on the scene at 10.35pm. The patient was transported by ambulance 11 minutes later at 10.46pm."

Detective Chief Inspector Michael Harvey said: "He was taken to hospital, where sadly he later died."

A post mortem has been scheduled for today.

"At this time it is my belief that there was some sort of altercation in the Milldale Crescent area and another man was also assaulted, though his injuries are not life threatening," the officer said.

"A 16-year-old male was arrested shortly after midnight and is currently assisting us with our enquiries at Strand Road Police Station.

"I would like to thank the local community for their support in this investigation. We have had an excellent response, with a good number of people coming forward, providing us with information which is vital in assisting us with our enquiries."

SDLP councillor Jim McKeever knows the area well, as he used to live close by a number of years ago. Mr McKeever said: "This really is a sad situation all round. I want to send my condolences to the family of the deceased.

"I also urge everyone to think before lifting their hands in situations like this, because we can now see what a split second bad decision does and how it affects families."

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said: "This morning a family is coming to terms with the death of a son in the most horrific of circumstances.

"The loss of a young man in any circumstances is absolutely tragic, but to have had someone with their whole life in front of them murdered like this will be particularly devastating for his family and his community."

Sinn Fein councillor Christopher Jackson said: "My thoughts and prayers are with this young man's family at this time and I would appeal to anyone with information to bring it forward to the PSNI."

Sinn Fein chief Martin McGuinness said: "The death of this young man in these circumstances is a tragedy that has shocked the local area.

"There is a live police investigation into this incident and that should be allowed to go ahead.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the man who was killed at this difficult time.

"I would encourage anyone with information on this incident to bring it forward to the PSNI."

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