Ex-partner of man stabbed to death tells of heartache
Murder victim Brian Phelan was yesterday described as a loving father and a "big gentle giant" by the grieving mother of his two young children.
Amanda O'Riordan paid tribute to the 32-year-old, who leaves behind a daughter aged six and a three-year-old son, as she visited the scene of where he died on the outskirts of Newry 24 hours earlier.
Mr Phelan, who was from Bessbrook, Co Armagh, was stabbed to death on Thursday afternoon in a killing that has left the local community deeply shocked.
A 27-year-old man who was arrested in connection with the murder remained in custody yesterday as detectives made a breakthrough in their investigation. A blue Peugeot 206 believed to have been involved in the killing was recovered by police.
Ms O'Riordan, who broke down at the scene of the murder on rural Carrivekeeney Road, laid a bouquet of flowers beside others left by family and friends.
She said the loss of her partner had left her devastated.
"My heart has been ripped out. I'm lost without him," she told the BBC.
Ms O'Riordan said Mr Phelan was a devoted and caring father to their children.
"He loved his children and they loved him," she added.
"He was a big gentle giant. He would have done anything for anybody, he was there for everybody.
"I can't understand why someone would be so cruel."
Earlier she told Q Radio: "You couldn't meet a nicer fella. Everybody loved him. He helped everybody.
"Everybody's heart is broken. The poor children. I don't know how I'm going to get through it. I don't know what I'm going to do."
Ms O'Riordan, who thanked well-wishers for their support, said she had no choice but to stay strong for the sake of the youngsters.
SDLP MLA Justin McNulty said the murder had "united the community in shock and anger" and that locals will rally round Mr Phelan's loved ones.
"Young children have lost a daddy, parents have lost a son and an entire community has lost a neighbour and friend in one in the most shocking of circumstances," he said.
"This is a very quiet and decent community; everyone is shocked at this tragic incident.
"I know the community will rally round the Phelan family in their hour of need and in the times ahead."
Meanwhile, Detective Chief Inspector Eamonn Corrigan thanked the public for their assistance in recovering the vehicle.
"We continue to appeal that anyone who was in the area of Carrivekeeney Road or the general Newry area, or who has any dash-cam or mobile phone footage of the Peugeot car, to get in touch with us," he said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives in Newry via the non-emergency number 101. Information can also be given anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.