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Police's appeal to bonfire revellers as they probe suspicious death of Joanne Thompson (33) in her Newtownards home

By Rachel Martin and Angela Rainey

Published 16/07/2016

Joanne Thompson was a mum to four boys
Joanne Thompson was a mum to four boys

An investigation has begun into the suspicious death of a mother-of-four from Newtownards whose body was found in her home two days after she attended an Eleventh Night bonfire.

Detectives are appealing for witnesses who may have seen Joanne Thompson (33) at the bonfire at Dakota Avenue in the West Winds estate.

Ms Thompson's mother found her lying face down on her bed in her home on Old Mill Court on Wednesday morning.

She had moved to the town centre just six months ago from West Winds, where the rest of her family lived.

Neighbours in Old Mill Court said they were shocked by the news.

They added the area was considered a quiet part of the Co Down town.

Harry McMullan (79), who lived next door to Ms Thompson, raised the alarm with the emergency services.

He said Ms Thompson frequently offered to help him with errands.

He added: "She was a lovely girl who would have done anything to help anyone.

"She was a good girl who kept herself to herself and didn't mean any harm to anyone.

"I've lived here for 40 years and I haven't seen anything like this before."

A teenager was slashed with a knife at the same bonfire, and residents in the estate said there were several fights on the night.

However, it is not known if the events are connected or whether Ms Thompson was involved in any of them.

Homemaker Joanne was a trained hairdresser who was also qualified in catering.

She is understood to have separated from her partner Michael, and is survived by her sons Jamie, Carter, Curtis and Micka.

The children were not in the house at the time.

Detective Inspector Chris Wilson said: "We are making enquiries into events leading up to Joanne being found and are making two specific appeals for help from the local community.

"The first is to people who attended a bonfire in the West Winds estate at Dakota Avenue on the Eleventh Night. We want to hear from anyone who witnessed any disturbance or altercation at the bonfire.

"The second appeal is to anyone who noticed any activity around Joanne's home at Old Mill Court between 9pm on Tuesday, July 12 and 11am on Wednesday, July 13.

"We are making a number of enquiries and studying the findings of a post-mortem examination. I would ask anyone with information about Joanne to contact the incident room at Newtownards police station on the non-emergency number 101.

"People can use the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if they want to provide information anonymously."

Independent councillor Jimmy Menagh said the news had stunned people in the tight-knit community.

"It was very shocking to hear the news," he said.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family at this tragic time.

"If anyone has any information that might help I urge them to take it straight to the PSNI."

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