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Parents travel to identify son's body

By Claire McNeilly

The parents of a Co Antrim man who died in suspicious circumstances in England were today preparing to identify their son's body.

The 30-year-old man, named locally as Michael Duffin, was found lying unconscious in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne early on Saturday.

Paramedics are believed to have treated him at the scene of the incident, which occurred in Carliol Square, but he died hours later at Newcastle General Hospital.

Mr Duffin, who is originally from Ballycastle, had been living and working in Newcastle for several years.

His parents were on holiday in France when they were told of his death on Saturday and it is understood that they will travel to Newcastle upon Tyne today to speak to the officer in charge of the case.

A post-mortem examination has taken place, although the results are not being made public.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph today, SDLP councillor Madeline Black, a close family friend and neighbour, said the news had come as a " terrible shock".

"Everyone is very, very upset and distressed," she said.

"The whole town is shocked about poor Michael.

"He was prayed for at Mass on Sunday, but no-one really knows anything about what happened."

Councillor Black also paid tribute to Michael, whom she described as "a very pleasant young man".

"He was very outgoing and friendly," she added.

"I haven't seen him for a couple of years since he moved to England, but his dad said he was very happy, very settled.

"He had met a lovely girl and they were going to get married."

Northumbria police today confirmed that three men were arrested but later released on bail.

A further four men were arrested at a hotel in the city centre on Saturday morning.

Three were subsequently released with no further action and one man, a 31-year-old, has been bailed pending further enquiries. Officers are not seeking anyone else in connection with the incident, although enquiries are ongoing.

Detectives also confirmed that the death is being treated as suspicious, although investigations are in their very early stages.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Anastasi, who is leading the investigation, said: "We want to hear from anyone who was in the area of Carliol Square in Newcastle between 11pm and 4.30am."

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 08456 043 043 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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