Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's murder toll on the rise as number to die violently climbs to 21 this year

Gunmen claimed first victim of 2019, as five-year-old girl's death among latest probed

Giselle and Allison Marimon-Herrera
Giselle and Allison Marimon-Herrera
William ‘Pat’ McCormick
Hunter McGleenan
Lyra McKee
Alice Morrow
Paul Smyth
Niall Magee
Reece Leeman
Darren McGurk
Cecil Robert R Ellis
Malcolm McKeown
Ian Ogle
Pat Ward
David Murphy
Mike Kerr
Wayne Boylan
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Northern Ireland's murder rate is on the rise, figures show.

A total of 21 people have been killed violently this year, according to provisional statistics from the PSNI.

That is two more victims than at the same time last year, and higher than previous totals in 2017 (15) and 2016 (16).

Some cases classified as murder can later change to charges of manslaughter, while others thought to be suspicious may change after extensive enquiries and post-mortem examinations.

Three of the 21 murder victims died in the days leading up to Christmas.

This week a murder investigation was launched after the bodies of Frances Murray (37) and Joseph Dutton (47) were discovered at a flat at Kinnaird Close in north Belfast.

It is alleged they were stabbed after an altercation.

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Last Friday, police said they were treating the death of a five-year-old girl, Nadia Zofia Kalinowskas, in Newtownabbey as murder.

Wayne Boylan (37) was the first murder victim of 2019 in Northern Ireland.

The father-of-two was killed on January 18 when two gunmen burst into a house in the Lower Dromore Road area in Warrenpoint, Co Down, and shot him in the head with a shotgun. A 21-year-old woman was injured in the attack.

Police later said they were following two lines of enquiry, linked to drugs and paramilitaries.

Nine days later, east Belfast community worker Ian Ogle (45) died after he was beaten and stabbed near his home in Cluan Place.

Ian Ogle

Police linked his death to a long-running feud between his family and members of the UVF.

Main: Giselle and Allison Marimon-Herrera. Top row: William ‘Pat’ McCormick; Hunter McGleenan; Lyra McKee; Paul Smyth; Niall Magee; Reece Leeman. Second row: Darren McGurk; Cecil Robert R Ellis; Malcolm McKeown. Third Row: Alice Morrow; Ian Ogle; Pat Ward. Bottom row: David Murphy; Mike Kerr; Wayne Boylan
Main: Giselle and Allison Marimon-Herrera. Top row: William ‘Pat’ McCormick; Hunter McGleenan; Lyra McKee; Paul Smyth; Niall Magee; Reece Leeman. Second row: Darren McGurk; Cecil Robert R Ellis; Malcolm McKeown. Third Row: Alice Morrow; Ian Ogle; Pat Ward. Bottom row: David Murphy; Mike Kerr; Wayne Boylan

On February 9, Pat Ward (30) was discovered dead in an alleyway in the village of Clogher, Co Tyrone.

Mr Ward was a member of the Travelling community.

On February 19, the body of 52-year-old Co Antrim farmer David Murphy was discovered with gunshot wounds inside his home on Church Road, Glenwherry.

He had been known to police and had previously been accused of holding guns and ammunition for the UVF.

On March 7, a community in Newry was stunned by a murder-suicide in which Giselle Marimon-Herrera (37) and her daughter Allison (15) were found dead alongside Giselle's partner Russell Steele (38) at a flat in the Glin Ree Court area.

Police had said they believed Steele hanged himself after strangling the mother and daughter.

Three days later in east Belfast, grandmother Alice Morrow (53) was discovered dead in her flat in Whincroft Way in the Braniel estate.

Alice Morrow

Also in March, Reece Leeman (21) was found collapsed in the Connsbrook Drive area of east Belfast after being the victim of a serious assault.

Police believe he was stabbed after an altercation at a property in Kyle Street. His body was found in the early hours of March 15.

On March 20, Darren McGurk (23) died in Limavady after he sustained a serious head injury following an assault at a house in the Glenbeg Walk area.

One of the year's most high-profile murders was that of journalist Lyra McKee on April 18. She had been observing rioting in Londonderry's Creggan estate when she was shot and killed by the dissident republican group, the New IRA.

Lyra McKee

The killing was condemned around the world, with Ms McKee's funeral in St Anne's Cathedral attended by political leaders including ex-Prime Minister Theresa May.

Later that month, on April 27, father-of-one Niall Magee (21) died in hospital after police said he received a fatal knife wound to the face at a property in the Cairn walk area of Crumlin.

Ex-UDR man William 'Pat' McCormick (55) from Comber went missing on May 30, with his body discovered more than a month later in a lake near Ballygowan.

Prosecutors have claimed the father-of-four was killed after being lured to a flat.

On June 21, the body of 50-year-old Paul Smyth from Lisburn was discovered by a female friend. He had been shot dead in the living room of his home at Coulson Avenue.

And in August, career criminal Malcolm McKeown was gunned down in broad daylight outside a filling station in Waringstown. Shortly after he left the petrol station shop, he was shot six times and was found slumped in his car at the side of the garage.

Malcolm McKeown

On October 31, Timothy Graham (47) from Bangor was stabbed to death at his home in a sheltered living development on Enterprise Court.

At his funeral service, mourners heard that Mr Graham was "a gentle giant" who was deeply loved by his family but was a "troubled and tormented person" who struggled badly with his mental health.

The next murder also took place in Bangor, when the former BBC announcer Michael Kerr (68) was found beaten to death in his home at Birch Drive on November 19.

Police believe "the defenceless older man" was either attacked after disturbing intruders in his home or was murdered over a personal vendetta.

In Co Armagh, police launched a murder investigation after an 11-month-old baby boy, Hunter Patrick McGleenan, died suddenly at his home on Market Street in Keady on November 6.

The year also ended in tragedy with four more murders.

In Portadown, 49-year-old Cecil Robert R Ellis, known as Foggy, was found dead after neighbours spotted a large amount of blood on the doorstep of the father-of-two's terraced house in Clounagh Park.

The murder investigation into Nadia Zofia Kalinowskas (5) was announced on December 20, while Frances Murray (37) and Joseph Dutton (47) were found dead on Monday, December 23.

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