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Blood-drenched killer attempted to attack victim's partner in Co Armagh home

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Police at the crime scene at Lake Road in Craigavon

Police at the crime scene at Lake Road in Craigavon

Officers at the scene

Officers at the scene

Police at the crime scene at Lake Road in Craigavon

The murderer of a young man found dead in Co Armagh arrived at the victim's home after his death covered in blood and attempted to attack his partner before she escaped through an upstairs window, local residents have said.

Police said Nathan Gibson (25) was discovered "fatally wounded" on the towpath near Lake Road in Craigavon.

On Friday the PSNI cordoned off three areas linked to what politicians described as a "brutal" killing.

Lake Road was closed throughout the day as police and forensics teams swept the area.

The Legahory estate home of Mr Gibson, his partner and their young child was also cordoned off and under a heavy police presence.

Elsewhere, a large area in the Clonmeen estate, across the road from Mr Gibson's home, was closed off after an eyewitness reported an altercation between a group of people at 1.20am yesterday.

A police helicopter was also seen searching the area on Friday morning.

It is believed that Mr Gibson's partner broke a number of bones after jumping out of an upstairs bedroom window as she fled from her partner's killer. Her family did not wish to speak to the media yesterday.

Residents said the killer arrived at the home in bloodstained clothes around 11.30pm on Thursday.

He ordered her to "take off her clothes" or he would "kill her" .

After an altercation on the stairwell of the property, Mr Gibson's partner kicked her attacker down the stairs and jumped from an upstairs window to escape before seeking help.

It is believed that Mr Gibson knew his killer and they would have "liked each other".

"They wouldn't have been hostile to each other," said one resident. "He was a quiet man and wouldn't have been the type of person going out and looking for fights. He was a family man."

Police said that Mr Gibson's body would undergo a post-mortem examination to confirm how he died.

Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell said officers received a report late on Thursday night that Mr Gibson had been attacked. He was found fatally wounded on the towpath close to Lake Road and pronounced dead at the scene.

DCI Caldwell continued: "I need to know the movements of Nathan last night between 5.30pm and 11.30pm.

"Did you see him? Was he in the company of anyone else? Did you see anything or anyone acting suspiciously in the area of the tow path from Legahory Court to Lake Road area of Craigavon?"

Mr Caldwell also stated that police are investigating another incident in the Legahory Court area.

"Whilst we cannot get into specific details of this incident we are also appealing to anyone who witnessed anyone acting in a suspicious manner in this area late last night to contact police," he said.

"I would ask anyone who has information that could assist me with my enquiries to contact detectives from Serious Crime Branch at Lurgan PSNI Station on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 1741 16/01/20."

Speaking at the scene of the murder, Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart said the PSNI had assured her that they will maintain a heavy police presence to ease the minds of those who use the Craigavon lakes walkways.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased, a young man cut off in his prime," the DUP MP said.

"My understanding is that it has been a brutal incident. The police have released that they are treating this as a murder investigation.

"It's important that we give them the time and space to investigate it and also give the family time and space to grieve their loss.

"This is the city park and it's heavily used. People are in shock today, but the police have assured me that they will have a presence here to restore confidence."

Sinn Fein MLA John O'Dowd also visited the area yesterday. He said the murder appeared to be a "very violent incident".

"I would appeal to anyone with information to come forward with that, regardless of how small they think that information is," he said. "Come forward and give it to the PSNI.

"The community are in shock at this. This is a quiet area. It's shocking in any circumstances and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family at this time."

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said: "This is the latest in a string of sudden deaths in the Upper Bann area. As a Policing Board member, I will be liaising with the PSNI to ensure the police presence in the area is escalated so people across the community feel safe in their homes."

A 40-year-old man was yesterday arrested on suspicion of murdering Nathan Gibson. He remained in police custody last night.

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