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Nothing much ever happens in this quiet cul-de-sac... now it has been shocked to the core

By Victor Gordon

The well-planned, tree-lined development of Upper Ramone Park is one of the last places you'd expect to encounter a double killing.

Reports of the incident at the stylish, detached white house of the 83-year-old couple, who were violently done to death yesterday afternoon, shocked everyone in the quiet Portadown cul-de-sac. The attack was something of a parallel with the long-gone Troubles era, which bedevilled the Co Armagh town for so many years.

Built over four decades ago, Upper Ramone was ideal to accommodate a range of staff from the nearby Craigavon Area Hospital - one of Northern Ireland 'golden six' - which has expanded beyond recognition over the years.

Health staff like technicians, nurses and administrative officers - as well as retired professionals and business people - live happily there, with just the one exit/entrance.

It is situated off the busy Killicomaine Road, which services six schools in the vicinity.

But there is barely a sound in Upper Ramone, where the only 'through' traffic is pedestrian access to the bustling hospital site.

Upper Ramone, though, was in hectic overdrive yesterday as helicopters buzzed overhead and ambulances raced in.

And the PSNI cordoned off the area near the deceased couple's home, now a gory crime scene.

The media - radio, TV, local, printed - gathered, along with politicians, MLAs and councillors waiting to be interviewed. The police stood guard over the scene.

My own personal memories of Upper Ramone, as a local reporter and Portadown resident, are mixed.

Residents of the park include people who have contributed greatly to the life of the town. But I have felt deep sadness at the death of two children connected with my church - one the granddaughter of a fellow chorister, the other the son of a fellow Boys' Brigade officer.

Both were the result of road accidents. At one stage the access to the hospital, via a path running behind Upper Ramone, was too open and I ran a successful campaign to have it curtailed, but not completely shut off.

And there was an almost laughable campaign when the local council had, for weeks, failed to deal with the doggy 'loo' bags.

The residents of Upper Ramone were, however, never the complaining types.

And the few times they called on the services of campaigning local 'hacks' usually bore fruit. They're responsible, caring people, not given to facile complaining.

Yesterday, though, they totally united in grief and absolute astonishment at the sudden summary deaths of two elderly and respected residents.

The couple led a happy and contented life, keeping themselves to themselves, and were devoted to the son-in-law and daughter who were first on the horrific scene.

One long-term resident said: "Very little ever happens in Upper Ramone.

"We're a tight community, helping one another when needed, but not living in each other's pockets.

"We can't believe this horror has happened, it's a total nightmare."

Ironically, a neighbourhood watch was being set up in the development, with residents worried that the breaking-and-entering epidemic that had hit Portadown recently would spread to Upper Ramone.

Council member Margaret Tinsley, who is helping with the project, said, "It was designed as a self-help scheme in the area and was at an advanced stage. But who could have dreamed this would happened in the meantime?

"Our prayers and thoughts are with the family at this unspeakable time."

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