Belfast Telegraph

Portstewart stunned after woman is gunned down in broad daylight

By Catherine Lynagh

Residents in a popular seaside resort have been left horrified following the brutal murder in broad daylight of a well-known local woman.

The North Coast holiday resort of Portstewart is in a state of shock after the woman, named by police as Marian Milligan, was murdered at lunchtime in the heart of the town.

Mrs Milligan, who is understood to be a grandmother and mother-of-four, died from injuries she sustained during a gun attack at the laundrette where she worked close to Portstewart’s promenade.

Police say a 48-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of the murder.

The laundrette is nestled in a secluded street just off the shorefront behind a block of apartments.

It is believed that a man entered the laundrette shortly before 1.30pm and shot the 51-year-old before making off in a yellow Renault Clio.

It is thought Mrs Milligan died at the scene.

One young woman who was close to the laundrette at the time of the shooting said: “We were in the bar, the victim’s friend was brought in after it happened.

“The police came in to tell her her friend was dead and she screamed. The woman’s screams will never leave me. No-one knew where the fella was.”

The suspect left the scene and travelled in the direction of Ballymoney before being apprehended by police and arrested in the Kilrea area.

Police have retrieved a firearm and are investigating a domestic line of inquiry. They confirmed they are not looking for anyone else in relation to the murder.

Mrs Milligan has been described as a “gorgeous, caring woman”.

One friend, who babysat for her, said: “She was a lovely, beautiful woman, she was very young-looking for her age. Gorgeous and caring. A real stunner. Her family would be well-known in the town.

“It is unbelievable. I’m in complete shock. It’s so sad that this has happened. How will her family ever come to terms with it?”

By 4.30pm yesterday the normally bustling seaside resort of Portstewart had fallen silent as people learned of the tragedy.

Businesspeople were refused entry around the location of |the murder.

The two-mile-long promenade and surrounding area was cordoned off as police carried out their investigations.

One bar owner said: “This is such a quiet and peaceful place. You don’t expect this sort of thing to happen.”

Police are appealing for witnesses, Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison said: “This is a horrific murder, occurring in broad daylight. There would have been a number of people in and around the area of Portstewart.

“I would appeal to them if they witnessed anything or saw anyone making off from the area of |the laundrette to please bring |that information to the attention of police.”

SDLP MLA John Dallat said the murder will shock the close-knit community of Portstewart: “There is a great sense of tragedy in Portstewart this afternoon,” he said.

“We associate Portstewart with the promenade and the nice view over Donegal. It is a place where the elderly and students co-exist in perfect harmony.”

Alliance councillor Barney Fitzpatrick condemned the shooting, which he said would damage |the peaceful image of the holiday resort town.

“Portstewart is renowned for being a quiet seaside town and we can certainly do without killings like this,” he said. “I send my sincere condolences to her family in this difficult time.”

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