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Two dead friends . . . and the families still seeking justice

Two friends, Victor Stewart and Eileen Corrigan, were found murdered in their Armagh homes within weeks of each other. The police, who are baffled by the crimes, tell Crime Correspondent Deborah McAleese that they are desperate to find justice

Hard-working dairy farmer Victor Stewart is thought to have just finished his evening tea when his killer, or killers, struck on Monday, October 20, 2008.

He more than likely would have been unwinding after a long day on the remote family farm in Middletown when his assailant launched into a frenzied and shockingly savage attack.

A fit and well-built man, Victor may have attempted to defend himself, but the blows were just too powerful and he was beaten to death.

His body was discovered at the Creevekeeran Road farm two days later by an animal feed salesman.

Victor had a small circle of friends with whom he socialised some weekends, but mostly he lived quite a solitary life.

According to police, Victor was well-known in the area and would not have made enemies easily. They are baffled as to why he was targeted.

Detectives have revealed that a safe was taken from the house, but they are still not certain whether robbery was definitely the motive. They are hoping that if the safe is discovered it will lead to the killer. Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Talbot said: “While we would not want to speculate on any aspect of this investigation, a possible motive may be robbery which turned into a vicious attack on Victor, who died as a result.

“At the time of the murder a safe was taken from Victor’s house. We are asking the public if they have been offered a safe for sale in strange circumstances, or perhaps found one that had been discarded somewhere, to contact us.”

Mr Talbot said Victor’s family “remain shocked and horribly distressed” at his murder. “Because the murderer is still free they have not been able to properly grieve for him,” he said.

Mr Talbot added: “I believe that someone living locally may have the information we need to catch Victor’s killer.

“I do feel there are potentially people in that area who would be able to assist me. I also believe there are people in the community who perhaps know who carried out this murder and for whatever reason, perhaps misplaced loyalty, are not passing that information on. I would ask them to search their conscience so we can get justice for Victor and his family.”

Detectives are appealing to anyone who was in the Creevekeeran Road area of Middletown between Monday and Wednesday, October 20-22 last year, and believes they have information to call them on the dedicated incident room number: 028 3751 7390.

Quiet pensioner strangled to death in her own home

For at least two days the strangled body of widowed pensioner Eileen Corrigan lay undiscovered in her Armagh home.

The frail 62-year-old was no match for the killer who entered her house sometime after 1pm on Thursday October 2, 2008 and strangled her. If she cried out in alarm or shouted for help nobody heard her.

It was a violent and lonely end for a woman who had led quite an isolated life since the death of her husband 12 years earlier.

Her body was not discovered until Monday October 6 when a friend called at her Boyds Row home, which is in a row of terraced houses hidden down a small laneway just off a busy road.

The murder has perplexed detectives. They think it was possibly a burglary gone wrong, or else an altercation with someone she knew.

But the key to catching the killer could lie with CCTV images of the area. Detectives think the killer has been captured on cameras and are desperately trying to identify a large number of people also in the footage so they can close in on the murderer.

The last confirmed sighting of Eileen was at 1pm on Thursday October 2 as she left an off-licence close to her home.

After analysing her routine, police believe she was due to go to the bank to withdraw money on the Thursday or Friday, but she never made it.

There was no sign of forced entry at the house so it is possible Eileen opened the door to her killer. Given the location of the property, it is also unlikely a stranger would have stumbled across the house by accident.

Police have almost exhausted all their lines of inquiry into Eileen’s murder and are hoping that the CCTV images of the area will finally provide the breakthrough.

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Debbie McMaster said: “If anyone was in Boyds Row from Thursday October 2, 2008 to Monday October 6, 2008 we really need them to come forward so we can eliminate them from the video footage. That way we will be left with the killer.

“We are trying to identify everyone coming in and out of that entry. We are hoping to get to a situation where we have only a small group of unidentified people and one of these will be our killer.

“We need to know who was there over those days to eliminate them and identify the killer. It will also help bring us to a time closer to when the murder happened.”

Detectives can be contacted at Armagh on 0845 600 8000.

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