Belfast Telegraph

Portadown residents shocked as body find turns into murder probe

Forensic officers examine the scene at Clounagh Park in Portadown
Forensic officers examine the scene at Clounagh Park in Portadown
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

Residents have been left stunned after police launched a murder probe five days after the body of a "quiet and harmless" father-of-two was discovered in his Co Armagh home.

Two men, aged 18 and 24, have been arrested after Cecil Robert R Ellis, known as 'Foggy', was found dead at around 9.45am last Monday.

It's understood that the alarm was raised by neighbours who noticed a large amount of blood on the doorstep of the 49-year-old's terraced house in Clounagh Park, Portadown.

One nearby resident said she saw it as she walked her son to a nearby primary school at around 8.30am that morning.

However, the circumstances surrounding Mr Ellis' death remained unclear until a post-mortem examination was carried out.

Police returned to the address on Saturday evening after launching a murder investigation.

One of the victim's next door neighbours expressed shock as he struggled to accept what had happened just a few yards away.

"He was quiet and harmless," the pensioner said. "I only knew him by his nickname Foggy.

"He never gave anybody any trouble - he had hearing difficulties and kept himself to himself.

"I don't know why anyone would want to do this - it certainly makes you want to lock the doors."

Mr Ellis' death notice said that the "much loved father of Rebecca and Billy and a loving brother of Barbara" died suddenly at home. His funeral arrangements have yet to be confirmed.

One resident said they had assumed no foul play was involved in Mr Ellis' death until dozens of police officers pulled into the cul-de-sac on Saturday to seal off the crime scene.

"It was like a movie set," they said.

"There was a police officer who was coming in and out during the week, but then loads of them just swarmed in out of nowhere."

Yesterday, dozens of officers continued to comb through hedges, grass and drains along the Brownstown Road in search of a discarded weapon.

The doorstep of the property, which faces onto the main road, was covered up as forensic officers searched for clues.

Forensic searches also took place at an address on Ranfurley Road.

It is understood that Mr Ellis suffered a fatal leg wound during an incident which took place at some time between 10.30am on Sunday, December 8 and 9.45am on the following day.

Detective Chief Inspector Eamonn Corrigan from the PSNI's Major Investigation Team said a number of searches have been carried out in the Portadown area where two suspects have been detained on suspicion of murder.

Last night they remained in police custody.

DCI Corrigan appealed for help in bringing Mr Ellis' killer to justice as he urged local residents "to think back if they saw anything out of the ordinary" last weekend.

"If you did, or if you have any information you think may help our investigation please tell us by calling our detectives on 101," he added.

Portadown councillor Darryn Causby lives in the area and knew the victim.

"He kept himself to himself and was never any trouble," he said.

The DUP representative said initial shock following the discovery of Mr Ellis' body had begun to subside when a heavy police presence returned to the area.

"There was a sense of relief because we were led to believe there was nothing untoward," Mr Causby explained.

"So we were very surprised when police moved back in, in significant numbers.

"This is a very quiet area with a lot of families so people are alarmed - it's very unsettling."

Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart urged anyone with information to come forward.

"The police are trying to understand the complete picture of what happened and they can only piece it together with the help of family, friends and neighbours."

DUP MLA Jonathan Buckley also said the development has come as "a great shock to many" as he sought to comfort residents.

"Having spoken to police last night I would like to reassure the community that all is being done to bring clarity to the grieving family involved," he posted on social media.

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