The brother of the tattoo artist Aidan Mann who was murdered in Downpatrick last week has paid an emotional tribute at his funeral.
Aidan, also known as Zen Black, was stabbed with two knives in Church Street in the town on Monday, January 3, before four men wrestled the attacker to the ground and disarmed him.
Barry Donnelly, who lived on Church Street, appeared in Newtownards Magistrates Court on Wednesday charged with the 28-year-old’s murder.
The funeral took place on Monday morning (January 10) at S.Clarke & Sons funeral directors in Bangor.
The service was for immediate family only, but a live stream was available to those coming to pay their respects outside.
The burial took place at Clandeboye Cemetery afterwards, where he was buried with his grandmother.
On a Facebook post by Sailors and Scoundrels Tattoo Parlour in Newtownards on Friday, where Aidan was working at the time of his death, requested that all men attending must wear black ties.
Inside the funeral home, images from Mr Mann’s childhood were played on a screen as close family members arrived.
The service began with the theme music from the Titanic film being played as the coffin arrived and loved ones comforted each other.
A humanist celebrant led the service, stating that as Aidan had not been religious the family wished the service to be a celebration of his life.
Mourners heard how as a young child he had a love of dressing up in a batman costume and his creativity later saw him become a highly respected tattoo artist.
Several songs from his favourite group, My Chemical Romance, were played during the service which also included a heartfelt tribute from Aidan’s brother Lewis.
"There’s absolutely no words to describe my brother,” he said.
"I have sat with my brother and had time alone with him, and I said to him ‘I’m very good at my words, and I can’t find the words for Aidan.’
"They say people were one in a million, well Aidan was one in a trillion.
"He was my protector, he was my older brother...we done so much together and we had so much planned together.
"I told everybody that I knew that I didn’t care if they liked tattooing or not, Aidan was the best tattooist in Northern Ireland and I was so proud, I still am, so proud of him.”
He added: “He built me up to be the person that I am and I’ll continue to try and adapt some of Aidan’s mannerisms, but nobody could.”
He said his brother would have cried if even a wasp was hurt in front of him.
"He was a big gentle soul, me and my brother had a bond and I loved him very much.
"We had so much planned together, but he’s getting a beautiful send off with beautiful people and beautiful friends.
"Everything is beautiful, he would be so proud and so happy of everyone.”
Addressing the tragic nature of his brother’s death, he said: “I loved him so much, this didn’t need to happen.
"Honestly he was the best person on the face of the earth. You couldn’t have got a better person than Aidan.”
Last Tuesday a special vigil was held in his memory where around 60 vehicles gathered at the Seacat car meet-up event in Belfast’s Corporation Street underpass – an event Mr Mann is said to have attended each Tuesday evening.
Those who were present in his memory joined together to pay tribute to someone they described as a “very well natured” and “down to earth” person.
An online fundraiser was launched earlier this week to help cover funeral costs with over £7,000 raised in just a matter of days.
Those who set up the fundraising page described Aidan as “one of the most interesting, caring and passionate humans about” and an “accomplished artist in many forms but most notably tattooing” adding that the tattoo community of Northern Ireland has “lost a legend”.
Those who donated to the online fundraising page described him as “an amazing person” and “a beautiful soul”.