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Jennifer Dornan vigil held in west Belfast as police launch murder probe after mother of three found dead in Dunmurry house fire

Published 03/08/2015

Jennifer Dornan's father Stephen speaks at the vigil. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Jennifer Dornan's father Stephen speaks at the vigil. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
A murder investigation has been launched after the body of a woman was found following a house fire on the outskirts of west Belfast. She was Jennifer Dornan, 30, a mother of three. Friends and neighbours organised a vigil for the dead woman that was held outside her Lagmore home in Belfast on Monday evening. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
A murder investigation has been launched after the body of a woman was found following a house fire on the outskirts of west Belfast. She was Jennifer Dornan, 30, a mother of three. Friends and neighbours organised a vigil for the dead woman that was held outside her Lagmore home in Belfast on Monday evening. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
A murder investigation has been launched after the body of a woman was found following a house fire on the outskirts of west Belfast. She was Jennifer Dornan, 30, a mother of three. Friends and neighbours organised a vigil for the dead woman that was held outside her Lagmore home in Belfast on Monday evening. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
A murder investigation has been launched after the body of a woman was found following a house fire on the outskirts of west Belfast. She was Jennifer Dornan, 30, a mother of three. Friends and neighbours organised a vigil for the dead woman that was held outside her Lagmore home in Belfast on Monday evening. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 3rd August 2015 - Vigil for Jennifer Dornan Pictured is the sister of Jennifer Dornan, Claire Dornan in the Lagmore area holding a vigil for Murder victim Jennifer Dornan after she was found dead following a blaze in her Hazel View home in the West of the City. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 3rd August 2015 - Vigil for Jennifer Dornan Pictured is MLA Jennifer McCann in the Lagmore area holding a vigil for Murder victim Jennifer Dornan after she was found dead following a blaze in her Hazel View home in the West of the City. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Sister of Jennifer Dornan, Claire Dornan, pictured during the vigil. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Members of the public in the Lagmore area holding a vigil for murder victim Jennifer Dornan. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Members of the public in the Lagmore area holding a vigil for murder victim Jennifer Dornan. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Members of the public in the Lagmore area holding a vigil for murder victim Jennifer Dornan. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Members of the public in the Lagmore area holding a vigil for murder victim Jennifer Dornan. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Members of the public in the Lagmore area holding a vigil for murder victim Jennifer Dornan. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Members of the public in the Lagmore area holding a vigil for murder victim Jennifer Dornan. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Sister of Jennifer Dornan, Claire Dornan, pictured during the vigil. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Tributes have been paid to Jennifer Dornan who died in a fire at her home in Dunmurry yesterday morning
Tributes have been paid to Jennifer Dornan who died in a fire at her home in Dunmurry yesterday morning
Tributes have been paid to Jennifer Dornan who died in a fire at her home in Dunmurry yesterday morning

A vigil has been held in west Belfast to pay tribute to mother of three Jennifer Dornan whose body was found after a house fire in the Lagmore area of Dunmurry.

Ms Dornan - who had only celebrated her 30th birthday in May - died at her home on Sunday morning. Emergency services were called to Hazel View in Lagmore, just before 5am, but they found Ms Dornan dead at the scene.

Tributes have been paid to Jennifer Dornan who died in a fire at her home in Dunmurry yesterday morning
Tributes have been paid to Jennifer Dornan who died in a fire at her home in Dunmurry yesterday morning
Tributes have been paid to Jennifer Dornan who died in a fire at her home in Dunmurry yesterday morning
Tributes have been paid to Jennifer Dornan who died in a fire at her home in Dunmurry yesterday morning
Sister of Jennifer Dornan, Claire Dornan, pictured during the vigil. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Sister of Jennifer Dornan, Claire Dornan, pictured during the vigil. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye

On Monday evening the PSNI launched a murder investigation following results of a post mortem. Police have yet to establish a motive for the murder.

Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes said: "Following the results of a post mortem examination today, Jennifer’s death has been declared a murder. It goes without saying that her family are devastated, firstly by the news of her death and, within the past few hours, suffering the added heartbreak that this was murder.

"Jennifer leaves behind three young children, two boys and a girl all under 9. Quite simply, they don’t understand what has happened to their mum. Jennifer had been on a night out with friends at the Devenish complex on Finaghy Road North on Saturday night. They left at around 1.30am and went back to a friend’s house close to her own home to continue socialising. At 3am she left her friend’s house and walked the short distance home."

Detective Geddes said police from the PSNI's Serious Crime Branch are appealing to members of public for help in finding her killer.

He said: "I am appealing to anyone who saw Jennifer in the bar on Saturday night or Sunday morning or who saw her walking in the Hazel View area between 3 and 4am on Sunday morning to come forward. I also want to hear from anyone who saw other people walking in the area around this time, particularly in Hazel View.

"At around this time a small silver car is seen speeding away from Hazel View. This could be completely unconnected but we need the driver or any passengers to come forward. I would also appeal for anyone with any information about Jennifer or who knows anything about the events of Saturday night and Sunday morning to call us."

Sinn Fein MLA Jennifer McCann said the community had been left stunned.

She said: "This news has sent shock waves through the local community who have rallied round her family.

"I am urging anyone in the community with information which may assist the police inquiry into Jennifer's death to come forward right away.

"This is a time for calm heads and the community needs to support the family and help the police get on with their job of finding Jennifer's killer."

On Sunday Ms Dornan's shocked friends and neighbours also gathered outside her home to pay tribute to her.

Members of the public in the Lagmore area holding a vigil for murder victim Jennifer Dornan. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Members of the public in the Lagmore area holding a vigil for murder victim Jennifer Dornan. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Members of the public in the Lagmore area holding a vigil for murder victim Jennifer Dornan. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Members of the public in the Lagmore area holding a vigil for murder victim Jennifer Dornan. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Members of the public in the Lagmore area holding a vigil for murder victim Jennifer Dornan. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Jennifer Dornan's father Stephen speaks at the vigil. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Members of the public in the Lagmore area holding a vigil for murder victim Jennifer Dornan. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Members of the public in the Lagmore area holding a vigil for murder victim Jennifer Dornan. Photo: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Sister of Jennifer Dornan, Claire Dornan, pictured during the vigil. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye

Tanya Smith, who grew up with Ms Dornan and lived on the next street, told the Belfast Telegraph that she had been a "pillar of the community".

She said: "Jennifer was a fantastic friend and an even better mother, she was the soul of this community and a mummy to everyone.

"She was bubbly and bright and did everything she could to make her kids happy.

The scene at Hazel View in the Lagmore area of Dunmurry. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
The scene at Hazel View in the Lagmore area of Dunmurry. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
The scene at Hazel View in the Lagmore area of Dunmurray where 30-year-old Jennifer Dornan, mother-of-three, died after a house fire in the early hours of Sunday morning. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Flowers and tributes left at the scene. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Flowers and tributes left at the scene. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye

"We had known each other since we were both in secondary school and in May we had a joint 30th birthday party because our birthdays are two days apart.

"Jennifer also helped me to celebrate my hen do last month in Newry."

Tanya, who is due to get married in a matter of weeks, said that she didn't know how she would cope without her best friend by her side on the big day.

She added: "None of this has sunk in. We all feel sick thinking about what happened to Jennifer, but we will all remember her as a happy and loving person."

Jennifer Kettle, another friend of Ms Dornan, said: "She was the best mummy, she took her kids everywhere with her and they never wanted for anything.

"I live just up the street and I don't know what we're all going to do without her. She was a huge part of this community and was involved in a lot of stuff that went on in the area.

"I will remember her as a person who took real pride in herself, her children and this area.

"She was a single mum-of-three and never complained - she lived for those kids."

Jennifer said that her friend had a "contagiously happy personality".

"You couldn't be down around her because she would just lift you back up again", she said.

Kieran Smyth, a neighbour, said that Ms Dornan had been "loved by everyone" and that her death would be "a huge loss".

He added: "She was a fun-loving person who would do anything for anyone, she had time for everybody."

Ms Dornan's dad told the Belfast Telegraph that he was "too upset" to speak about his daughter's death, but that he was happy for others to share their memories of her.

There was also an outpouring of tributes on social media over the weekend from grieving family members and friends.

One friend posted: "Heartbreaking news about Jennifer Dornan, rest easy missus, thinking of all your family. What a lovely person you were". Another said: "Three kids left with no mummy, that poor family, RIP".

Ms Dornan is understood to have been alone in the house when the fire broke out. Her kids were staying with their grandmother at the time.

Emergency services were called shortly before 5am but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Detectives from Serious Crime Branch are appealing to members of the community who saw Ms Dornan on Saturday night when she was socialising with friends or in the early hours of Sunday morning as she walked home to contact them on 101.

Meanwhile an online fundraising drive to help Ms Dornan's family has raised more than £11,000.

The GoFundMe page was set up by a friend devastated at the loss.

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