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Tragic Anthony McErlain laid to rest almost two weeks after Ballycastle murder

By Allan Preston

Published 09/02/2016

The funeral of Anthony McErlain at St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Church in Ballycastle
The funeral of Anthony McErlain at St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Church in Ballycastle
Victim: Anthony McErlain

Around 500 mourners gathered in a Co Antrim seaside town for the funeral of murder victim Anthony McErlain.

Requiem Mass for the 48-year-old was held in St Patrick's and St Bridget's Church in Ballycastle, before he was buried in the adjoining ceremony.

Mr McErlain's body was found on January 28 in Broombeg View in the town.

Police said he had suffered a "traumatic and frightening death".

Mr McErlain came from a large, close-knit family and was one of 11 siblings.

A funeral notice stated that his death was "deeply regretted by his daughter, brothers, sisters and entire family circle".

Ballycastle councillor Cara McShane attended the wake on Sunday evening.

She described the family as "completely devastated, angry, shocked and in disbelief about the manner of his death".

"They're a big family and have great support from each other, and there's a massive circle of friends across north Antrim, especially in Ballycastle and Dunloy," she said.

Last week a 33-year-old homeless man was charged with the murder at Coleraine Magistrates Court. Christopher Keenan remains in custody and the case has been adjourned until February 29.

A 50-year-old man had also been questioned in connection with the murder.

Mr McErlain had struggled with alcohol in his final years, but was known as a gentle person by those close to him. "Everybody who knew Anthony knew he was a harmless person who was his own worst enemy to a certain degree," said Ms McShane.

"His family tried to help him as much as they could. The Ballycastle community is reeling from his death. It is definitely the severity and brutality of it that is mind-numbing."

Family friend Donal Cunningham, a former chairman of Moyle District Council, was at yesterday's funeral service.

He had known Anthony from his school years and praised the courage of the McErlain family.

"They were very united today," he said. "It was a very dignified funeral and the family seemed to hold together pretty well, at least outwardly.

"I remember Anthony was a great character. He certainly would have had his problems but he worked hard to deal with those. The community are still trying to come to terms with his death. I suppose today was about marking the sense of loss and for people to show their solidarity with the wider McErlain family."

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