Belfast Telegraph

Man (35) arrested in murder probe after assault victim dies

By Luke Barnes

Detectives have arrested a 35-year-old man on suspicion of murder following the death of a Coleraine man.

Mark Lamont, who was assaulted last week, yesterday succumbed to his injuries.

The 54-year-old victim was from the Captain Street area of the Co Londonderry town.

The man was arrested in Newtownards yesterday evening by detectives from the serious crime branch.

Mr Lamont was critically injured on the Ballycastle Road, Coleraine, at around 1am on Monday, September 26.

He was taken to hospital with serious head injuries and later transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, where he was put on life support.

The following day, police arrested a 35-year-old man in connection with the incident.

He was charged with attempted murder and is due to appear at Coleraine Magistrates' Court on Monday, October 17.

Mr Lamont had over 70 previous convictions and was also due in court that Monday for disorderly behaviour and assault in a Domino's Pizza shop.

In 2012, Mr Lamont was convicted of attacking a man in a Ladbrokes bookmakers shop with his son.

At the time, District Judge Richard Wilson gave him a suspended sentence and noted his "undistinguished" record of 77 previous convictions.

He conceded, however, that physical violence had not been a major part of that record.

Coleraine councillor David Harding expressed his shock at the tragedy and called for a more visible police presence to reassure the community.

He said: "It's absolutely awful to think that this could have happened. I also think we want to see a more visible police presence - it helps when people see officers on the ground. I have sympathy for the PSNI, especially with their difficult financial situation, but we feel we don't have enough influence in community policing.

"There are few police on the ground where people feel they need them the most."

Ulster Unionist councillor William McCandless offered his condolences to Mark Lamont's family and praised the efforts of the PSNI and the ambulance crews.

Mr McCandless also stressed that Mr Lamont's past convictions should not be used to minimise his tragedy. He said: "He was a human being and he is valued because of that. Once we start to denigrate and lose respect then all values are lost."

"A number of times requests were made to the public for information and people came forward, so they did not fall on deaf ears."

Mr McCandless also urged people, especially the elderly and vulnerable, to avoid walking home alone late at night if they could avoid it. He also thought a more visible police presence in Coleraine was vital.

He said: "People want to see bobbies on the beat. We feel safe in that. I understand that there are financial constraints, but we've got to get back to intrinsic values. We seem to have thrown the baby out of the bathwater when it comes to policing."

Mr McCandless added that he thought police relied too much on CCTV as a deterrent.

Belfast Telegraph

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