Murder victim Niall Magee was 'one in a million', funeral told
A cousin of Crumlin murder victim Niall Magee has paid an emotional tribute to "the golden child" of her family.
The tearful woman, named Tori, told mourners at St Gerard's Church, Newtownabbey, yesterday that "he was like a second brother to me. Not another soul could replace him in this life or the next".
The 21-year-old died as a result of a single knife wound to the right side of the face during an incident at a house on Cairn Walk in the Co Antrim town last Saturday night.
"He was one in a million," added Tori.
"Always loyal, always there without question. There's a Niall-shaped hole in my heart.
"We're all heartbroken. It will be hard for us all to adjust, but Niall's big, beautiful smile will never be forgotten."
Earlier, parish priest Fr Gerry Cassidy told those gathered for Requiem Mass how Niall's family had been robbed of a young man "in the springtime of his life".
"Death is a forced expulsion from familiarity," he said. "That happened last weekend for Niall's family.
"There is an empty space at the table, and above all in the heart.
"When the electricity goes off in a storm the television goes blank, the cooker goes cold and the lights go off.
"We feel lost, angry, plans are ended. We blame someone.
"Niall's tragic death is a blackout. From shining sunshine to the darkest night without warning," he added.
The priest described how one minute can turn the world upside down, telling mourners.
"Nothing can prepare us for it," he said.
"There was a human factor in Niall's death. God did not want this tragedy to happen.
"But we must never judge a life by the way it ends and we must pray for forgiveness for all Niall's faults.
"From his early days at Park Lodge, where he was first confirmed and took his first communion, through secondary school and into spells of unemployment Niall was determined to enhance his life.
"He was taking courses to improve his education, learning to drive. Always helpful, always there, a young man with a close bond to his family.
"He loved his partner Sammy-Jo, his little son Niall Og.
"A big smile, a big child, that was Niall. A young man with a great sense of humour, a close bond to his family, competitive at football and like many young men, particular about his appearance.
"He had no chance to prepare for death. No work done, no plans made."
Fr Cassidy said the young man's parents, Ronan and Marie, have been "walking in a dark tunnel" in recent days.
He added: "In time there will be new light, a deeper understanding.
"But memories will keep Niall alive in their hearts, the good fun, the tough times. Stories are a blessing. They're good to remember and allow them to influence our lives."
After Requiem Mass, Mr Magee was laid to rest in Carnmoney Cemetery.
A 25-year-old Co Antrim man has been charged with the murder of Mr Magee.
Michael McManus, of Cairn Walk, Crumlin, denied the charge at Limavady Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
His bail was refused and he was remanded in custody until May 28.