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Grieving Shona Killen's family can't believe she's gone and 'wish world had known her talents'

Family's grief as Northern Ireland barrister dies suddenly on Spanish holiday aged 27

By Deborah McAleese

Published 14/09/2016

Shona Killen who died on holiday in Spain.
Shona Killen who died on holiday in Spain.
Shona Killen died whilst on holiday in Spain
Shona Killen died whilst on holiday in Spain
Shona Killen died whilst on holiday in Spain
Shona Killen died whilst on holiday in Spain
Shona Killen

The family of a talented young barrister who died suddenly while on holiday in Spain have said they wish the world had known how special she was.

Shona Killen, from Cloughey in Co Down, was on holiday with her boyfriend in the Costa del Sol when she took ill in the early hours of Monday morning.

Despite desperate attempts by doctors and paramedics to save the 27-year-old, she died in hospital an hour after the alarm was raised.

Her older brother Michael (37) has flown out to Spain to retrieve his sister's body. Shona's devastated family are awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination to discover the cause of death.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday her second brother Eamon (34) said the family were heartbroken by her death.

"We are a very tight-knit family. She was the one baby girl. Shona was always the favourite. My mum in particular has taken it so hard. We were all so close," he said.

"She was on holiday with her boyfriend. They were due back on Thursday. They were only out for a week and they were having a brilliant time. I drove her and her boyfriend to the airport last week when they were flying away to Malaga. So the last time I saw my sister was at 4am on Thursday morning. I can't believe it.

"They were having so much fun. We would get social media updates and phone updates on all they were doing. She was having a whale of a time."

Eamon said the family does not yet know the cause of death.

"We don't really know at the minute what happened. She took ill during the night and the doctors called paramedics. They worked on her for an hour at the place she was staying," he said. "They took her to hospital and were trying to do tests and scans to see what was wrong but she died.

Shona Killen died whilst on holiday in Spain
Shona Killen died whilst on holiday in Spain
Shona Killen died whilst on holiday in Spain
Shona Killen died whilst on holiday in Spain
Shona Killen died whilst on holiday in Spain

"She was a really fit girl, she was as fit as they come. She was always doing charity walks. This was totally out of the blue." Eamon added: "Her boyfriend was with her. He just called us in the morning saying that she was going to hospital and she was critical. We were all together, my mum, dad and brother, when she died. We have not had any news yet as to what caused it. My older brother has flown out. They haven't finished the post-mortem. We don't know much other than she is gone."

Shona studied law at Queen's University. She began practising as a barrister in 2011, specialising in criminal and family law and special injury.

Eamon said: "Shona was in her fifth year as a barrister. It was something she worked very hard to achieve. We are a working class family and she did everything the hard way to get where she got. It was through her hard work, spirit and dedication that she succeeded. She was a very competent girl.

"So many of her talents went unknown. I wish the world had known her talents. When she was younger she used to be in a local amateur dramatic group. She played the role of Annie. She was a phenomenal wee singer. She'd make recordings of herself singing at friends' parties. That's how you knew she was happy, when she was singing.

"She was the life and soul of the party. You would be really hard pressed to find anyone who could say anything bad about her. She was always a happy, cheery person. We can't believe she is gone," said Eamon.

The Bar of Northern Ireland described Shona as a "well-known and highly respected young barrister". In a statement the Bar added: "We would like to express our deepest condolences to her friends and family and we place them in our thoughts and prayers."

Shona was due to take part in a charity walk on Saturday at Stormont to raise funds for an Alzheimer's charity. Several friends and colleagues now intend to complete the walk in her memory. Tributes have been flooding in on social media. Shona's aunt Ann McMullan wrote: "This has had to be one of the worst days of my life, our beautiful, clever Shona gone too soon."

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