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Murder shocks Co Armagh 'new town' that has forged a future after years of decline

The scene

A sense of shock gripped Craigavon on Friday as the police investigation into the brutal murder of Nathan Gibson got under way.

Parts of the area were on lockdown as detectives began to piece together the moments before and after the killing.

A subsequent attempted attack on his partner in the Legahory estate, allegedly by the killer, and an altercation in the adjacent Clonmeen area added to the dark mood.

Officers made the grim discovery of Mr Gibson's body on Thursday night, a stone's throw away from the popular Craigavon lake walks - built as a communal area for residents in the 1960s - and the almost finished state-of-the-art leisure centre.

Many families still chose to enjoy the morning sunshine despite the brutal nature of what had happened, as forensics officers began to sweep a nearby wooded area for evidence.

The scene of the murder - Lake Road - was closed off to traffic, while the Legahory home of Mr Gibson, his partner and their young child was also sealed off.

Craigavon was planned as a 'new town' when construction began in 1965.

Many properties in Legahory have been left derelict for years after the abject failure of the plan. Other dilapidated areas have already been demolished.

Local residents reported that Mr Gibson's partner made her escape from the killer by jumping from a top window.

The property, which had security cameras installed at the front door, housed a large wooden play area for their child in the back garden, while the curtains were strung out through the top window where the female made her escape.

In Clonmeen residents attempted to get on with their lives but were forced to take other routes due to the cordoned area where an altercation broke out a few hours after Mr Gibson's death.

One woman explained that her 10-year-old daughter heard the commotion going on at 1.20am.

"The police have been here since and my house has been cordoned off.

"I have to walk in and out of the cordon to get home."

Another resident hoped that Mr Gibson's partner makes a full recovery following her ordeal.

"It's shocking what has gone on around the area," said the taxi driver. "Usually this place is great compared to years ago. It is unbelievable that it can happen here.

"Hopefully the girl recovers because it is bound to be bad for her. She must be very traumatised. I hear she's broken her two ankles."

A mother, who lives in the Clonmeen estate, added that the murder has worried her as her son is just one year younger than the victim.

"I have a son who is 24 years of age and it is a shock that this can happen. The man that was killed was somebody's son, father and uncle," she said.

Craigavon has made major advancements in recent years.

Hundreds of affordable new homes have attracted young families.

But the murder of Mr Gibson has left the area in a deep state of unease.

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