Belfast Telegraph

Double murder victim Joseph Dutton a dedicated father loved by all who knew him, funeral told

Pallbearers carry the coffin at the funeral of Joe Dutton in west Belfast
Pallbearers carry the coffin at the funeral of Joe Dutton in west Belfast
Pallbearers carry the coffin at the funeral of Joe Dutton in west Belfast

By Christopher Leebody

Mourners gathered yesterday morning to pay their respects to north Belfast murder victim Joseph Dutton.

Family and friends at the Requiem Mass at St Oliver Plunkett's Church on the Glen Road heard how father-of-two Joe was "always very witty" and had been a keen sports fan throughout his life.

As the congregation and coffin filed into the church to the sound of guitar music and the words "Here I am, Lord", there was a notable sense of strength among the man's grieving family.

The 47-year-old died alongside Frances Murray (37) at a flat at Kinnaird Close off the Antrim Road on Monday, December 23.

The pair are believed to have been stabbed to death.

A man has been charged with their murder.

A court heard last Thursday that the accused, Steven McBrine (35) had made "full admissions" to police.

Parish priest Father Aiden Brankin led the funeral service and conveyed Joe's life-long work ethic to those gathered.

He told them of a dedicated father, who instilled in his children the idea that they were "capable of doing anything" with enough determination.

Fr Brankin called on mourners to ensure they "make a positive impact" on the lives of others in the way Joe had to those he loved.

He also talked about the happy family times Joe experienced, growing up in Corrib Avenue as one of six children to the late Paddy and Nell.

"His first job came during his school days at Christian Brothers' School, whenever he got up in the early hours of the morning to help his friend Marky with the milk run," he said.

Joe was famous in his younger days as a boxer competing at St Agnes Boxing Club, winning trophies at all ages up to amateur level and becoming Ulster and then All-Ireland champion.

"He was the one you didn't want to be drawn against because he had very fast hands and fast feet," the priest continued.

"That took a lot of dedication and commitment.

"He would often have got one of his brothers to go out on a run with him to keep his fitness up and to keep his weight down.

"However, it wasn't just a quiet run or a jog; they had to get togged out first of all with loads of black bags tucked around their tummies to ensure the maximum fluid loss.

"They didn't get many hugs when they came home."

Joe met Kim during a night out and the two went on to be "gifted" with two sons, Ordhan and Caolan.

"He was always encouraging them to follow him into boxing - first of all for the discipline, but also the enjoyment that he got," Fr Brankin said.

"He was proud of the both of them and every single one of their achievements.

"Joe's dad Paddy had a wee saying whenever he completed any task around the house. He would have stood back to admire his finished work and would just have said: 'The Duts can do it'.

"It is a saying that Joe and all the brothers also made their own, to get handed on to the two boys as well. In that saying he means that if you put your mind to it, then you are capable of doing anything.

"Joe was always very witty, he enjoyed putting a smile on people's faces. He just loved the craic. He also - God love him - loved Aston Villa, though no one knows exactly why he started to support them.

"He would have enjoyed the banter whenever his team were playing any that the family and friends supported."

Fr Brankin welcomed the family of Frances Murray and called on both families to "help and support" each other.

He also reflected on the prevalence of addiction in the community.

"You know there are not many people here today who, somewhere their family circle, haven't someone who suffers from an addiction. It is an awful illness," he said.

"You start to doubt yourself, you start to doubt your friendship. You also doubt how God could love and care for you, because at times you don't even like yourself.

"Yet if Joe was here today he would see those who do love him, those who were there for him and waiting for him to turn to them for that help and support.

"Today, even through our grief and pain, we come to give Joe back to God."

Following the Requiem Mass, Mr Dutton's coffin was carried at the front by his two sons, with mourners following behind, filing out of the church to the sound of Amazing Grace.

Mr Dutton was laid to rest at the City Cemetery in Belfast.

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