Belfast Telegraph

Appeal to taxi driver after death of Mark Ponisi in Belfast flat

By Allan Preston

A taxi driver could have vital information about a killing, according to detectives investigating an east Belfast murder.

Mark Ponisi (53) was found shortly after 10am on Saturday in the living room of a flat on the London Road, just off the Ravenhill Road.

He was pronounced dead a short time later and officers said the victim appeared to have sustained a number of injuries to his head and face.

A post-mortem examination will be carried out to determine the exact cause of death.

A 25-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman were arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Montgomery issued a specific appeal for information yesterday.

"We are keen to speak to the driver of a taxi believed to have picked up three males and one female in Belfast city centre at around 2am on the morning of the murder, and dropped them to London Road," he said.

"We believe this taxi driver may have information that could prove vital to our investigation and would appeal directly to him to contact the investigation team at Musgrave Street by calling 101 and asking for extension 17712."

The detective added: "We would also renew our appeal to anyone with information about this brutal crime to contact the incident room at Musgrave Police Station."

A nephew of Mr Ponisi told the Belfast Telegraph the family were still too upset to speak but called his uncle a "gentleman" who had a son.

Local representatives have condemned the killing and said they believed Mr Ponisi wasn't well-known in the area.

Ulster Unionist Deputy Lord Mayor Sonia Copeland said the death would be a "devastating blow" to the quiet residential area.

"Nothing warrants murder," she said.

"We need to let the police investigate and if anyone has seen anything suspicious or can think of anything, then I would urge them to come forward."

She added: "I'm sorry for the family and my thoughts are with them at this time."

PUP councillor Dr John Kyle said: "This is a tragic incident, that this man seems to have lost his life through a violent attack.

"As far as I'm aware he wasn't well-known in the area but if anyone has any information that could shed light on this I would encourage them to speak to the PSNI." DUP councillor George Dorrian said: "There's a very strong community in the London Road area.

"These are tragic circumstances, although we still don't know the full facts.

"I hope it reassures the community how proactive the police have been in the investigation, and I would pass on my condolences to the family."

Belfast Telegraph

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