The father of a seven-week-old baby boy stabbed to death at a house in north Belfast on Tuesday is flying back from England to be at the bedside of his toddler daughter as she fights for her life in hospital.
A 29-year-old woman has been arrested in connection with the murder of the baby boy and the attempted murder of his two-year-old sister. She remains in police custody.
Police were called to the house at Brompton Park in the Ardoyne area after being alerted by a relative who was concerned for the children’s welfare.
Shortly before police arrived at the scene, neighbours heard the little girl, who lived at the property, screaming.
When the PSNI arrived at the scene, they found the baby and the toddler suffering from stab wounds.
Despite the best efforts of officers and later paramedics, the baby boy was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
Officers managed to revive the little girl until paramedics arrived and she was rushed to hospital, where she remains in a critical condition in intensive care.
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service say they received a 999 call at 8.16pm on Tuesday and that two children were taken to hospital.
The 29-year-old woman, believed to be originally from Romania but had lived in Belfast for many years, was taken from the house in handcuffs and placed in the back of a police car.
Distressed relatives of the children’s father arrived shortly afterwards and had to be comforted by local residents.
Flowers and cuddly toys were left at the scene by neighbours, some of whom made efforts to assist emergency crews at the scene.
The house remains closed off as a crime scene.
Detective Chief Inspector Millar from the PSNI’s Major Investigation Team said police arrived at the property shortly after 8pm on Tuesday and discovered the injured baby and another injured child in the house.
“Despite the efforts of the emergency services, the baby was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.
“The other young child was taken to hospital and remains in intensive care.
“A 29-year-woman who was also in the house has been arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder and remains in custody at this time.
“Our thoughts are with the baby’s family, who are being supported by Family Liaison Officers.
“While our investigation is at an early stage, I can confirm that at this stage, we are not looking for anyone else in relation to this tragic death.
“I would like to thank the local community for the support that they have provided and would appeal to anyone with any information that can assist our investigation to contact us on 101 quoting reference number 1787 27/07/21.”
Officers also asked that mobile phone footage from the scene, which shows the immediate aftermath of the incident, is not shared on social media.
It is believed police attended a domestic call-out at the house on Saturday evening, but it is not thought to be connected to Tuesday’s tragedy.
The children’s father had left Belfast at the weekend and travelled to the West Midlands in England to visit relatives.
He was due back to Belfast on Wednesday, where he is expected to be rushed to his daughter’s bedside in intensive care.
Local people in the close-knit community say there was no indication prior to the incident that the children were in any danger.
MP for the area John Finucane said it was “difficult to comprehend” what had happened.
“It’s a very tight-knit community, houses are very close to each other, neighbours are very close to each other,” the Sinn Fein MP said.
“I think as the area tried to get to grips with what was unfolding before them, I think shock and a certain sense of numbness just befell everybody.
“It compounds the hurt when we’re dealing with somebody so young.
“Our thoughts are obviously hoping to be very positive for the other child, who’s critical."
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill added that the “thoughts and prayers” were with the family of the two children.
SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon said it was “important that the PSNI are given the space and full cooperation to fully investigate this terrible incident”.
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said it was “tragic news”. He added: “My prayers are with all involved. Please, everyone respect the privacy of this family at this time and allow the police to do their job.”
People Before Profit councillor Fiona Ferguson said: “After something so shocking, community solidarity, community support, rallying around each other is going to be absolutely paramount.”