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Police granted extra time to question two suspects in James McDonagh Toomebridge murder probe

Published 12/01/2016

The man was attacked in Toomebridge.
The man was attacked in Toomebridge.

Police have been granted a further 36 hours to question two suspects in their investigation of the murder of James McDonagh.

The men, aged 24 and 52, were arrested on Sunday night in the Toomebridge area following the attack.

Mr McDonagh from the Castledawson area had been involved in an altercation outside the Elk Inn on the Hillhead Road in Toomebridge at around 2am on Sunday.

Yesterday afternoon he died of his injuries in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

A post mortem examination is due to take place on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a 41-year-old man was arrested in Toomebridge on Monday night on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody.

And a 20-year-old man arrested on Sunday night was released on bail pending further inquiries, police said.

SDLP councillor for the area Brian Duffin said the death had come as a shock to the area. "Our sympathies are with the family at this time," he said.

"I don't know the full circumstances of the incident but I understood he was a member of the Travelling community. There was a Travellers' site quite close to Magherafelt."

"The roads were blocked for some time while the investigation was going on yesterday with a lot of people taking diversions."

He continued: "This is just something we don't expect to happen at this time of year, so soon after Christmas. It's a well-run community here and to lose someone so young here like that is certainly not commonplace."

Sinn Fein Assembly member Ian Milne has called the death a "tragedy for his family and friends".

"The death of this man following an assault in Toome in the early hours of Sunday morning is an absolute tragedy. It has caused widespread shock in the local area.

"My thoughts and sympathies are with the man's friends and family at this sad time. I would appeal for anyone with any information on this incident to bring it forward to the PSNI immediately."

Detective Chief Inspector Eamonn Corrigan is leading the investigation.

"It was reported that at around 2am on Sunday morning an altercation took place outside the Elk Inn," he said.

"I am appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone with any information that can assist with the investigation to contact the incident room at Magherafelt on the non-emergency number 101.

"Alternatively, anyone who does not wish to provide their personal details can call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."

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