Belfast Telegraph

Ex-BBC man Michael Kerr beaten to death in a 'vicious and sustained attack'

Murder victim Michael Kerr
Murder victim Michael Kerr
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

A Bangor man was viciously beaten to death in a sustained and violent attack in his own home, detectives have confirmed.

The body of 68-year-old Michael Kerr, a former television and radio announcer with BBC Northern Ireland during the 1970s and '80s, was discovered inside his home on Birch Drive on Tuesday, November 19.

Following the results of a post-mortem on Thursday, police launched their murder investigation and head of PSNI Major Investigation Team, Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy, revealed Mr Kerr suffered skull and facial fractures as a result of the horrific beating.

Police believe Mr Kerr was either attacked after disturbing intruders in his home or was murdered because of a personal vendetta.

Television viewers in the early 1980s will remember an infamous incident when Mr Kerr read the late-night television headlines before the nightly shut-down of the service while "worse for the wear".

The incident - which ended with the phrase "don't worry, it'll be good, it'll be nice" - cost him his job with the broadcaster.

A former colleague recalled how others in the company had volunteered to read the headlines for him that night, but he had managed to barricade himself into the studio.

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Mr Kerr, described by police as "a creature of habit", lived alone in the quiet residential area of Rathgael, and his body was discovered by neighbours who were concerned after his bins had not been brought in from the roadside after the usual collection last Monday morning.

"Mike's body showed no sign of defensive injuries and he is likely to have been utterly defenceless in the face of the violence he faced," DS Murphy said.

"The investigation is at an early stage and the circumstances surrounding Mike's murder are likely to develop in the coming days, but I believe at this stage that the attack happened inside his house.

DS Jason Murphy
DS Jason Murphy

"It's not known at this stage how many people attacked Mike or whether Mike knew them.

"There is no sign of forced entry to the home and that leaves two likely scenarios.

"Either Mike let his killers into his home or that his house was insecure."

The last confirmed sighting of Mr Kerr was on Sunday in Birch Drive and police are attempting to establish his movements during the last few days of his life, particularly between 8am on Saturday and 4pm on Tuesday when his body was found by neighbours.

Mr Murphy described Mr Kerr as a private person, adding he was keen to establish as much as he can about his lifestyle, friends and acquaintances.

"Mike was a man of routine and it is likely that locals saw Mike in the area of the Rathgael Road in the days before he was killed. We are keeping an open mind as to the motive," Mr Murphy said.

"I believe Mike was alive at 2pm on Sunday."

It is not believed Mr Kerr was the victim of a paramilitary-style attack, and police have also ruled out a sexual motive.

Police stressed there is no evidence at this stage that the public are at risk, but asked those living in the area to remain vigilant. They have also asked the public in help in identifying potential murder weapons that may have been discarded.

"People living in the Birch Drive and surrounding area should contact police if they come across any item or object that could potentially be the murder weapon," DS Murphy said.

"I believe that whoever killed Mike will have been bloodstained when they left his house. In recent days they may have disappeared or begun to act strangely.

"Has anyone you know come home with bloodstained clothing or returned home in different clothing from what they were wearing earlier?

"If so, please contact us.

"Mike's injuries are so extensive, I believe a weapon of some description was used.

"If you are in Birch Drive or any of the surrounding areas and come across any item that may have been used as a murder weapon, please get in touch," said DS Murphy.

"Police are still examining the scene and have not yet established whether anything was stolen from the house, though there is no sign of any chaotic search carried out within the house.

"We have engaged with local residents, but I believe there are further answers that sit within the community.

"Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."

Mr Kerr was a widower, having lost his wife around 15 years ago, and police have been working to help his brother, sister, nephew and niece come to terms with the circumstances of his death.

A BBC spokesman said: "Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time."

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