Belfast Telegraph

Bangor stabbing victim (47) 'was a ray of sunshine'

Police outside Choice Housing Association’s Enterprise Court yesterday
Police outside Choice Housing Association’s Enterprise Court yesterday
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

A man stabbed to death in Co Down was "a ray of sunshine", a devastated friend has said.

Police launched a murder investigation yesterday after the 47-year-old was killed at a sheltered housing development for people suffering from mental health issues.

The attack happened outside a property owned by Choice Housing Association in Bangor's Enterprise Court area shortly after 1am yesterday.

Police arrested a 45-year-old man at the scene.

He remained in custody last night.

Enterprise Court, a supported housing development situated within an industrial estate just off the main Newtownards carriageway, was cordoned off by the PSNI as the investigation took place.

Only health workers and detectives were permitted to enter the site, which contains four single-storey buildings, each offering accommodation to eight residents, as well as eight individual flats.

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Residents gathered at the entrance yesterday afternoon.

The victim, who was originally from Belfast, was a popular customer in The Hole in the Hedge cafe opposite the development.

Manager Leah Stenning said he was "part of our family".

"He called into the cafe every day and he voluntarily worked here just because we were kind to him," she added.

"He started off as a customer, then he became a friend.

"Because we were kind to him when he needed us at a particular time in his life, he just picked up a brush one day and started brushing the leaves and tidied outside.

"We asked if he wanted a coffee or anything as payment, but he said he didn't want anything.

"He just wanted to do it to give him a purpose. Those were his words exactly."

Ms Stenning spoke to the victim the day before the tragedy and said he was in good spirits.

"He said, 'I've a new coat, today's a good day and I'm at the job that I love'," she explained.

"It's a really sad day for all of us at the cafe.

"We've been open for about a year now and from day one he was in every single day.

"He was a ray of sunshine and he was a very kind fella with a loving family."

The scheme at Enterprise Court is run in collaboration with Inspire Mental Health, the South Eastern Trust, Choice Housing Association and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Inspire, which delivers wellbeing services across the island of Ireland, said that everyone at the charity was "profoundly saddened" by the death of the man.

"Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of those involved," it added.

"We are providing ongoing support to staff and residents at Enterprise Court who have been affected by this tragic event.

"The incident is being investigated though all the appropriate channels and further enquires at this time are via the PSNI."

The South Eastern Trust and Housing Executive did not comment on the incident, but Choice Housing Association said: "We have been made aware of the tragic passing of a tenant at Enterprise Court in Bangor overnight and want to extend our deepest sympathies to their family.

"As landlord of the building, we cannot comment on individual tenants and will be making no further comment."

Speaking at the scene yesterday, the Mayor of Ards and North Down Borough Council, Alderman Bill Keery, said that no trouble had ever come from Enterprise Court and he described it as one of the best areas in Bangor.

"It's unbelievable," said the DUP councillor.

"This is a fantastic facility we have here and there has never been any sign or mention of trouble about it. One can't say anything other than being shocked and expressing surprise that it happened in this facility."

North Down DUP MLA Gordon Dunne expressed his shock at the incident and said his thoughts and prayers went out to the victim's family.

The Green Party's North Down MLA Rachel Woods added: "I am horrified to learn that a man has lost his life in such violent circumstances in Bangor this morning."

Chief inspector Trevor Atkinson said that anyone with information about the stabbing that could assist the investigation can call 101, quoting the reference 61 31/10/19.

Information can also be provided to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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