The parents of a Northern Ireland man killed in Afghanistan at the weekend have told how they have been left broken by the tragedy.
Father-of-four Ken McGonigle (51) had been working as a police mentor for a security company in Helmand Province when he was gunned down by an escaped prisoner being held by colleagues on Saturday.
Mr McGonigle lived in Magheramason on the outskirts of Londonderry with wife Gail, daughter Alex (8) and six-year-old son Jamie. He had two older children, Ruth (25) and 22-year-old Dale, from a previous marriage.
Speaking from his home in Trillick, Ken’s father Joe described his son as “one of the best”.
He said that Ken, a former policeman who served in Derry city, was out in Afghanistan trying to provide for his family.
He had been working for the New Century security services company, which is headed up by former Royal Irish Regiment commander Colonel Tim Collins and had been due to return to Northern Ireland at the start of next month.
“Kenneth was a great fellow, one of the best,” he said.
“Nobody could have asked for a better son. He was a very good man. He was brave and very active, he used to play badminton and football for the RUC, but, above all, he loved his work.
“He left the PSNI a few years ago but he said he was far too young to retire.
“He’d been with this company for about 18 months. Kenneth was in Iraq first of all and then Afghanistan.
“To be honest we were dreading getting bad news, we always thought it would be very dangerous, but he enjoyed it over there and he was very well thought of.
“We always looked forward to him coming home, we always looked forward to him coming back here for a visit. But that is never going to happen again. His mother is a broken woman.”
The grieving dad said that the family have been told that Ken’s body could be brought back to Northern Ireland at some time next week, with 10 days being given as the maximum wait.
Funeral arrangements will then follow.
A statement released last night by Mr McGonigle’s family said: “Our dear husband, father and friend tragically lost his life whilst courageously helping the people of Afghanistan. Ken's primary motivation in life was his family; he was devoted to us all, as we were to him. He had the heart of a lion and died a hero.”