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Man is charged with murder after stabbing of father-of-two outside a house in Gilford

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Police and forensics experts at the property in Gilford at the centre of the investigation. Credit: Conor Kinahan

Police and forensics experts at the property in Gilford at the centre of the investigation. Credit: Conor Kinahan

Victim: Eamonn O’Hanlon

Victim: Eamonn O’Hanlon

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Police and forensics experts at the property in Gilford at the centre of the investigation. Credit: Conor Kinahan

A 25-year-old man has been charged with the murder of Eamonn O’Hanlon in Gilford at the weekend.

Mr O’Hanlon, known as ‘Spud’, was knifed to death outside a house in the Co Down village in the early hours of Saturday.

Four men were arrested in connection with the killing. Three of them have since been released.

In a statement on Sunday night, the PSNI said detectives investigating the murder of Mr O’Hanlon had charged a 25 year old man with murder and possessing an offensive weapon with intent to commit an indictable offence.

“He is due to appear at Newry Magistrates Court on Monday, May 23. As is normal procedure all charges are reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service,” they added.

Mr O’Hanlon’s death was the fifth fatal stabbing here this year.

The 36-year-old father-of-two, who was originally from Belfast, had just been released from prison for assaulting a woman.

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At the time of that incident he was on licence from jail for an arson attack in Newry in which another woman nearly died. The victim spent three days on life support in hospital.

Court hearings in the case detailed how, in February 2018, O’Hanlon poured flammable liquid on her sofa and set it alight, before trying to stop the woman escaping. He was jailed for four years in October 2019 after pleading guilty to that attack.

After the sentencing, PSNI Detective Inspector Gary McDonald said: “This man’s horrific actions could have ended a 32-year-old woman’s life and left three children without a mother. I welcome the fact that he is now behind bars.

“The victim suffered injuries due to smoke inhalation and was transferred to hospital, where she remained for almost two weeks. This was an extremely traumatic incident which will have a long-lasting impact on the victim, who thought she was going to die.

“One year on, the victim continues to suffer flashbacks of the incident and from multiple health problems caused by the smoke inhalation.”

O’Hanlon was released in 2020, but was back behind bars in July of that year after being convicted of headbutting a woman in Gilford.

He was sentenced to five months, and was only regranted his licence earlier this month.

It came to light during a hearing in the case that O’Hanlon had 53 previous convictions, and had been free from prison for just two or three weeks before the assault.

District Judge Amanda Brady said: “The headbutting of a female must be at the very high end of a common assault.”

Following O’Hanlon’s death, tributes flooded in on social media.

One family member wrote: “Rip Spud. My heart’s broken, words can’t even explain the pain right now. Forever in my heart. I love you forever and always Spud.”

Another person wrote: “Rip Spud thinking of your whole family at this sad time.”

His death is the fifth knife murder this year following the killings of Aidan Mann (28) in Downpatrick in January; Jim Crossley (38) in west Belfast in March, and Alyson Nelson (64) in Whitehead in April.

Martin Gavin (47) died in hospital in March after succumbing to knife wounds suffered in north Belfast in January.

From April 2021 to March 2022, there were nine knife murders and 29 attempted knife murders. This was an increase from the previous year, which saw six knife murders and 23 attempted knife murders.

Killings involving a knife accounted for 38% of all murders here in 2021/22 and half of all attempted murders.
DUP Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart said the Gilford community was “in shock” following the death.

“Our prayers this morning are with the family of the deceased. A death of a loved one is never easy, but in such circumstances it is even more difficult to comprehend,” she said.

“It is important for everyone to give time and space to the PSNI to conduct their investigations.

“Our thanks must also go to the emergency services who attended to the scene. If anyone has any information, please come forward and report it to the police.”


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