Belfast Telegraph

Portadown community stunned by brutal stabbing of Michael and Marjorie Cawdery

'The awful and incomprehensible events have deprived our family of two wonderful people Michael and Marjorie'

By David Young and online editors

A family was plunged into mourning and a community left reeling in shock last night after an elderly couple were savagely murdered in their own home.

The bodies of the two pensioners - both aged 83 - were discovered yesterday afternoon when their daughter and son-in-law came to visit them in their home in a leafy cul-de-sac at Portadown's Upper Ramone Park.

It's understood they had both been subjected to a savage knife attack.

The couple were named locally last night as Michael and Marjorie Cawdery.

Mr Cawdery was a retired veterinary researcher, and had a long and distinguished career in his profession.

Educated in Nairobi, at Portora Royal School and at Trinity College Dublin, Mr Cawdrey - along with his wife - had been directors of veterinary firm Cawel Ltd, which was dissolved in 2011.

He published many well-regarded research articles in a wide range of academic journals in his field.

Just a week ago, he had written a letter to the British Medical Journal, examining the impact of the Ransomware virus which infected NHS computers.

Detectives are still working to establish a motive for the brutal crime which has stunned the Portadown community.

Last night, the cul de sac remained sealed off, with the murder scene under police guard as forensics experts conducted their investigations.

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Speaking at the scene, DUP General Election election candidate David Simpson spoke of the shock that had swept over the community.

"This is an awful shock for everyone," he said.

"I received the call from the PSNI to tell me about the incident at around 5pm.

"This is a quiet area, it never has any anti-social behaviour, any issues like that.

"It's an area where you would have a lot of retired elderly folk living.

"They come here for peace and quiet.

"All our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

"For a family member to come home and witness that and see the devastation... to find their parents dead - it's an awful situation."

He added: "We don't yet know the background, we don't know any fine details, whether he knocked the door or broke into the house.

"Elderly people would have been taken unawares and certainly, in their 80s, they couldn't have defended themselves.

"It's a tragedy and for a family member to come home and witness such a scene, it is appalling. It's a really awful situation for the family."

Mr Simpson said police had assured him that the daughter who had discovered the bodies of her parents was being looked after, adding that he would like to express his condolences to the family personally after they had time to grieve.

"If I can be of any help to them in this dreadful time, I will do my best," he said.

Neighbour Alvin Winter said the murder had frightened him: "I feel a wee bit apprehensive that something like this could happen round here. We always felt that this was a safe, quiet area.

"But you never know, now - this just makes you a wee bit scared."

Local UUP councillor Julie Flaherty lives just around the corner from the murder took place.

Shock was plainly audible in her voice as she spoke to the Belfast Telegraph last night.

"I can't get over it," she said.

"I'm still so shocked that this could happen here.

"This is just a quiet little cul-de-sac, just round the corner there's a church, and the school I went to.

"This is going to hit the area hard."

A family statement issued on Saturday read: "The awful and incomprehensible events of Friday 26 May have deprived our family of two wonderful people Michael and Marjorie who were our father, mother, brother, sister and grandparents.

"We thank the police for their prompt response and professional actions. We also thank everyone who has expressed sympathy in whatever way and offered help. Finally, we ask for respect and privacy in the coming days as the family try to come to terms with their loss. "

Yesterday's double murder is the second tragedy to hit the Co Armagh town in a week.

Craigavon High School pupil Caitlyn White (15) died last Saturday in a suspected drug-related incident.

Four people have so far been arrested by police investigating her death.

"I know her family, I know her mummy," Ms Flaherty said.

"I spoke to her this morning, and she is in pieces.

"And now we're facing another dreadful weekend, and another family torn to pieces," Councillor Flaherty added.

The PSNI confirmed that a 40-year-old man has been arrested following the incident, and is currently helping police with their inquiries.

Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes said: "Police were called to an address in the Upper Ramone Park area of the town at around 3.40pm yesterday afternoon. On arrival, officers found the bodies of Michael and Marjorie.

"Earlier in the day, at around 12.20pm, we had a report of a male breaking into a car in the Upper Ramone Park area. We are appealing for anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area between 11am and 5pm yesterday to get in touch with police on the non-emergency number 101.

"The family car belonging to the deceased, a grey Renault Kango van, registration NJZ 6101 was taken from the house and later found at around 5pm in the Edenderry Gardens area.

"We need to know the movements of this car from the time it left Upper Ramone Park until it was recovered in Edenderry Gardens. Again, please get in touch with detectives on the non-emergency number 101 if you saw it in the Portadown area yesterday between 3.30pm - 5pm.

"A 40-year-old man who was arrested yesterday afternoon in the Springfields area of Portadown remains in custody.

"I would appeal to anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in and around the Edenderry or Springfields areas yesterday, to please let us know.

"Detectives remain in the area and we will have extra patrols in the Portadown area.

"Anyone with information should contact police on the non-emergency number 101. Or, if you would prefer to provide information without giving your details, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111."

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