Belfast Telegraph

Ardglass murder victim a 'sea dog who was always smiling'

By David Young snr and David Young PA

Detectives have opened a murder investigation after a fisherman who was "always smiling from ear to ear" died two days after being attacked in a Co Down village.

Stefan Zait (45), who was originally from Romania, was attacked in Ardglass just before 11am on Tuesday.

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A 20-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman have been arrested and remain in police custody.

A 23-year-old man was also arrested in the wake of the incident but subsequently released on bail pending further police inquiries.

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Eamonn Corrigan said in a statement: "Sadly, Stefan Zait died this morning from the serious head injuries he received during a brutal and senseless attack in broad daylight on Tuesday morning.

"I am now seeking information about his murder.

"I would like to hear from anyone who witnessed this violent incident during which Stefan sustained fatal injuries.

"He was attacked between 10.30am and 11am near the Downpatrick Road and Strangford Road in the village.

"These are main roads in Ardglass and I would particularly like to hear from anyone travelling on buses in the area at the time who may have witnessed the assault or any motorists who may have captured the incident on their dashcams.

"Stefan was originally from Romania and had been living in Northern Ireland for six years.

"He was making a living by working on the fishing vessels in the harbour.

"His family are devastated and they deserve to know what happened to him."

One local man, who didn't want to be named, said Mr Zait was a well-known and popular figure in the fishing community.

"Stefan was a very nice man," he added.

"I worked with him on the boats for years.

"He was always smiling, from ear to ear.

"He was a sea dog - he loved the sea and he didn't deserve what he got."

South Down SDLP MLA Colin McGrath said the small community of Romanians in the Ardglass area - most of whom work on trawlers or in the fish-processing industry - would be devastated by Mr Zait's murder.

"This is a tragedy," he said. "There is a strong community spirit and a strong camaraderie among the fishing community, who will all pull together after this dreadful incident."

"I want to offer my sincere condolences to the family of this man who has passed away in the most tragic circumstances.

"I want the family to know they are in our thoughts and prayers."

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