Belfast Telegraph

Police treating death of Lithuanian man found in Portadown stream as suspicious

Police are treating the death of a Lithuanian man, whose body was found in a stream in the Mourneview Street area of Portadown last Sunday, as suspicious.

Eimantas Gerdvilas, who was 31-years-old, had been living in the town and was reported missing in February. A formal identification has taken place and detectives are now studying the results of a post mortem examination.

Detective Chief Inspector Lee McNevison, from Serious Crime Branch, said: “We are treating Mr Gerdvilas’ death as suspicious and I am appealing to the community in Portadown for their assistance.

“I want to speak to anyone who saw Eimantas in the Mourneview Street/Annagh Industrial Estate area of Portadown in the early hours of Saturday 13 February or at any time after this. This appeal is to local people in the town and to members of the Lithuanian community living there.

“It is important that we have as much information as possible so that we can determine what exactly happened to Mr Gerdvilas. I would ask anyone with information to contact detectives in Portadown on the non-emergency number 101. Anyone who does not want to provide their details can use the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.”

Three men arrested earlier remain in custody. A woman also arrested as part of police enquiries has been released on bail pending further enquiries and a teenage girl has been released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

Politicians say they're shocked at the developments in Mourneview Street, which is in an area that has become popular with large numbers of immigrant workers, particularly from eastern Europe.

DUP MLA Sydney Anderson said: "This is obviously a very worrying development in Portadown and I would hope that the police can quickly get to the bottom of what has happened. People living in the area will take great reassurance if the culprits can be apprehended and brought to justice.

"I have been speaking regularly to police in the area and they have been pro-active in their efforts. It is a sophisticated investigation which has been launched, across three separate crime scenes which obviously adds to the difficulties they face.

"I will be keeping in regular touch with local officers, but there is hope that this initial part of the investigation might be completed within the next 24 hours.

"There is an onus on everyone in the community who might have any information about this crime to help the police with their investigation."

One man told the Belfast Telegraph that Mourneview Street has "changed quite dramatically down the years".

He said: "It was always famous as one of Portadown's most staunchly loyalist streets with a Twelfth of July arch going up there every year along with bunting from all the houses.

"But in recent times scores of workers from outside the town have found the housing in the area attractive because it is at the lower end of the rental market. And there's always been plenty of jobs for the foreign workers in Portadown thanks largely to the food industry."

Portadown man Darryn Causby, who's Lord Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon District Council, said his heart went out to the dead man's family.

"It's a very sad day for them, for Portadown and for Mourneview Street where a number of families have been living in the same homes for the past 50 years," he said.

"People there are distraught. It's a very closely-knit area and even though it has seen many different communities setting up home in the district, there's a genuine sense of horror that this gentleman is dead.

"It's the last thing they would ever have imagined could happen on their own doorsteps."

Ulster Unionist councillor Doug Beattie has visited Mourneview Street, where he said people were not only stunned but also confused over the discovery of the body.

"It's a quiet street. Residents there don't know the man who has died and while there is speculation that he mightn't be a local, many people are upset that his life has been cut short," he said. "A lot of people's prayers are with the man's relatives and his friends at what is a very difficult time."

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