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Tributes to ex-RIR soldier Wilfred Holmes found dead in Belfast car park

By Luke Barnes

Published 23/09/2016

Friends have paid tribute to an Army veteran and former gravedigger who died suddenly in Belfast city centre
Friends have paid tribute to an Army veteran and former gravedigger who died suddenly in Belfast city centre

Friends have paid tribute to an Army veteran and former gravedigger who died suddenly in Belfast city centre.

Wilfred Holmes (45), who was known as Wilfie, was originally from the Ballymoney area but had been living in the city.

Officers were called to a car park off Donegall Street, next to Marmaris Kebab, at 11.30pm on Wednesday.

Up to four unmarked police cars and an ambulance responded, and forensic officers were seen leaving the car park later.

Friends Robert Wright and Patrick Foster identified the man as Wilfred Holmes, a former gravedigger for Ballymena Council.

They also described Mr Holmes as a Royal Irish Ranger veteran who was "well-liked and respected" and who had shoulders like an American footballer.

Mr Wright and Foster said their friend had fallen on hard times after a falling-out with his girlfriend, and had been staying at a hostel on Utility Street.

Detective Inspector Michelle Griffin said: "Police are investigating the sudden death of a 45-year-old male in the Donegall Street area of Belfast. A post mortem is expected to be carried out to establish the cause of death."

The officer said she was trying to gather as much information as possible about Wilfred's movements.

She said he had been in Londonderry early on Wednesday, before travelling to Belfast. He was last seen in the Royal Avenue/High Street area of Belfast around 6.30pm.

"We would appeal to anyone who saw him between then and 11.30pm when his body was discovered to come forward," she added.

"He is described as being approximately 5ft 9ins tall, with blue eyes, dark short brown hair and of medium build."

Anyone who has information is being urged to get in touch with detectives at Musgrave Police Station on 101 quoting reference number 1420 of the 21/09/16.

"The smallest detail just might help us establish where Wilfred was during this time, what he was doing and who he was with," said Detective Inspector Griffin.

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