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'Harmless big guy' Jim Hughes found dead at Belfast's Divis Tower

By David Young

Published 07/11/2016

Police officers at the scene of the suspicious death at Divis Flats in Belfast
Police officers at the scene of the suspicious death at Divis Flats in Belfast

A man who died in suspicious circumstances in west Belfast's Divis Tower was last night described as a "harmless big guy".

The victim was named locally as Jim Hughes, who lived alone in the high rise block.

A 42-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the fatal incident. It's believed Mr Hughes may have died as a result of a stabbing incident.

The grim discovery was made in a flat on the 14th floor.

A local woman said she had spoken to Mr Hughes last week, although it is believed the body had lain undiscovered for some time.

It is understood that police had been unaware of the death until a man handed himself in yesterday.

Last night, Divis Tower was sealed off as PSNI forensics officers and detectives began their detailed investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death.

Sinn Fein MLA Fra McCann, who lives close to the tower block, told reporters that the community was in shock.

"Divis Tower is a tight-knit community and this will be felt by those who live there," he said.

"It is too soon to speculate as to the cause of death but the PSNI are treating it as suspicious."

Sinn Fein councillor Mary McConville knew Mr Hughes, and had helped him in the past with housing issues.

"It's really dreadful news," she said.

"It's heartbreaking for his family. He was a very nice man. I want to send them my deepest sympathy - not just from me, but from the whole community."

Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes said last night that the PSNI probe into the death was at a very early stage.

He asked for anyone on the 14th, 15th or 16th floors of Divis Towers"who heard anything suspicious between Saturday night and Sunday to contact police.

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

He was described by one as a "harmless big guy". Another called the death "shocking".

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