Belfast Telegraph

Tributes to 'gentle giant' who died on work night out

By Lesley Houston

A man who died after a Christmas work night out has been described by friends as a “gentle giant”.

Colin McLeister (48) was pronounced dead in The Playhouse entertainment complex on Portrush’s Main Street just before 1am on Saturday morning.

It is believed the father-of-three fell down a flight of stairs inside the building, although a police source suggested there was an altercation which may be linked to Mr McLeister’s death.

Last night police were still trying to establish the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.

The Portrush man, who previously worked as a doorman, was pronounced dead at the scene.

A 34-year-old man arrested in connection with the incident was still being questioned last night.

The results of a post-mortem examination are being examined by police.

Mr McLeister, who had three daughters, owned a local furniture shop — Aladdin’s Cave — in the Co Antrim seaside town.

He had previously worked part-time at Burberries nightclub, where his father Derek and brother Adrian also used to work. He lost his mother to cancer three years ago.

On the nightclub’s Facebook page work colleagues posted words of sympathy to Mr McLeister’s family.

“The management and staff of the hotel offer our sincere sympathies to the family of our late former colleague Colin McLeister. We are all saddened at Colin's sudden death and are thinking of Colin's children at this very difficult time.

“Also in our thoughts are Colin's father Derek and brother Adrian, both friends and former employees of the hotel. God bless Colin.” Other messages posted on the page read: “May god rest your soul Colin god bless you xxx.”

Police said they are still trying to piece together the events which led to Mr McLeister’s death.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Magee said: “This investigation is very much in its early stages. We are trying to ascertain exactly what happened and that is why I need people to think about what they saw whenever they were in The Playhouse.

“Did they see Colin McLeister? Did they see him before he went down the stairs at 12.50am? If they did, please contact us.”

A PSNI source said: “There was some sort of altercation before, during or after the fall and whether it was a contributing factor or connected with his death, we are not sure.”

A family friend said Mr McLeister’s father Derek had spoken of their relatives being “completely gutted” by his death and described him as a “gentle giant and a good family man” and “never a fighter”.

Assembly Member John Dallat urged revellers who were at The Playhouse to come forward to police. “I appeal to people to co-operate. The sympathies of this entire community goes out to his family,” he said.

Councillor David McClarty said: “It’s so unfortunate that there’s going to be an empty seat at someone’s table this Christmas.”

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