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Shock and dismay as hard-working dad murdered

There was deep shock and disbelief in Coleraine this morning as family, friends and neighbours of Kevin McDaid struggled to comprehend the horror of his murder.

The father of four, described as hard-working and popular, was kicked to death in front of his son just yards from his own front door last night. Another man, Damien Flemming, is still fighting for his life following the brutal assault.

This morning the scene, a housing estate in the Heights area of the town, was a hive of activity with police, reporters, camera crews and concerned relatives of the victim gathered at a cordon.

There were two scenes sealed off – one at Mr McDaid’s house, where a black forensic tent had been erected in the back yard of the terraced house. At another property around the corner a white forensic tent was put up. Forensic officers dressed in white suits and wearing masks combed the scene for clues, police photography officers were inside the houses while detectives and uniformed officers stood by the cordon tape and spoke to witnesses.

One man, Peter Neill, still showed the scars from the trouble.

At the scene of Mr McDaid’s death someone had left a bunch of white lilies in tribute. The card with it read: “Kevin, you were one of the best”.

Pyjama-clad residents, standing on their doorsteps discussing the tragedy, say the area is a close-knit mixed community. But they also said they have been subjected to a barrage of attacks from loyalists who invade the area on a regular basis.

Keeping a vigil at one of the cordon was Mr McDaid’s eldest son Ryan (22), who was being consoled by the dozens of bystanders.

He explained: “I was there when it happened. We heard screaming and shouting and Damien Flemming was lying on the ground. There was a gang of about 70 people arrived, they came up in cars and taxis and jumped out. There were about 20 of them running about and about 10 doing the real damage.

“We were totally outnumbered. There was nothing we could do.”

Mr McDaid’s next-door neighbour Kelly Whittaker added: “We are all very close round here. He was a great man. It’s my son’s birthday today and I have to tell him that his uncle Kevin is dead. He saw him lying on the ground last night and I told him he would be ok and he would see him in the morning.”

Questions have also been raised about the lack of police in the area. Some people allege the PSNI had been warned an hour before the disturbance that loyalists had been gathering at a nearby pub.

One resident who declined to be named said: “They sent only one police car. Then after Kevin McDaid was dead there were four police Land Rovers with riot squad – so they knew this was going to happen.”

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