Belfast Telegraph

14 murders in Northern Ireland in 2017, two fewer than previous year

By Mark Edwards

A total of 14 people have been murdered in Northern Ireland so far this year, two fewer than 2016, police figures show.

Detectives conducted investigations into 21 homicides between January 1 and December 21 this year - 14 of these were murder.

Homicides can also include cases of manslaughter, infanticide and corporate manslaughter.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said: "While offences may initially be reported as, or treated by police, as murder, the full circumstances of incidents often only develop during the police investigation.

"Initial reports of murder may result in charges for manslaughter.

"And some deaths which are considered initially to be suspicious or unexplained - and therefore investigated as potential homicides - may be deemed as non-suspicious after extensive enquiries and post-mortem examinations have taken place and therefore result in no charges or prosecutions."

The PSNI released a list of this year's murder victims.

In January Anita Downey was found dead in Lurgan.

The body of the 51-year-old was discovered in a house in the Toberhewney Hall area of the town.

She was described as a friendly, bubbly woman who loved to socialise.

In February Richard Miskelly died after he was attacked at a house on the Bangor Road in Newtownards.

Mr Miskelly was found lying on the roadside. He was treated by ambulance staff but died at the scene a short time later.

High-profile loyalist George Gilmore died in a shooting incident in March. He was hit by bullets fired at his car on the Woodburn housing estate in Carrickfergus in March.

Gilmore (44), a former UDA commander, was hit in the neck, torso and leg after shots were fired at point-blank range. The murder was part of a loyalist feud.

Paul McCready died in hospital in early April following a fight that began in a Donegall Street bar in Belfast. It is alleged he was the victim of a so-called one punch attack.

It was reported that Mr McCready died after he hit his head on the pavement during the fight, which spilled out on to the street.

Also in April mother-of-two Lu Na McKinney drowned after entering the water from a boat while on an Easter holiday with her husband and children in Fermanagh.

The couple, from Co Donegal, had hired a cruiser with their children, a boy aged 13 and girl aged 11 on Lough Erne. It was only in November that police announced her death was being treated as murder.

In May Concepta Leonard was found dead in her home in Maguiresbridge, Co Fermanagh, following an apparent murder-suicide.

It is believed she had been stabbed by her ex-partner Peadar Phair. Phair's body was also found at the scene of the murder in Abbey Road.

A court was told Ms Leonard had secured a court order banning her suspected killer from contacting her just weeks before she was murdered.

In May a Portadown community was rocked by the murder of a pensioner couple.

The bodies of husband and wife Michael and Marjorie Cawdrey, both 83, were found in their at Upper Ramone Park home after being stabbed to death.

Police said they had been killed in a "very brutal attack".

In May Colin Horner, a well-known loyalist, was shot dead moments after putting his three-year-old son in the back of his car at the Sainsbury's store in Bangor. The murder has been linked to a loyalist feud.

In June Hazem Ghreir was stabbed at Downshire Place in Belfast city centre. He later died in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Hazem, who was in his 30s, was originally from Syria but had been living in the Carrickfergus area.

His family, who are living as refugees in Turkey, launched a crowdfunding funding campaign to repatriate his body.

In August Eugenjus Marauskas, a Lithuanian national, was found dead in Lurgan.

His body was found in a block of flats on Victoria Street in the town.

The flats are the same complex where 31-year-old Laura Marshall was found dead in 2016.

In October a murder investigation was launched after Laurence Shaw's body was found inside his home in Larne.

The 56-year-old was discovered inside the property at Hillmount Gardens.

At the time his brother said Mr Shaw's throat had been cut.

It was the third tragedy to hit the family.

In October Anne O'Neill, who was 51, died after being attacked at a house on Ardmore Avenue in Finaghy.

The retired nurse was discovered critically injured lying in her back garden after neighbours heard her screaming for help.

Also in October, the body of Eugeniusz Sinko was discovered in Co Antrim.

His body was found at a rural cottage on Townhill Road outside Rasharkin.

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