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Tribute paid to 'dedicated' soldier

A soldier who was murdered at an Army barracks " served his country with the highest degree of honour and dedication", his family said today.

The body of Corporal Geoffrey McNeill, 32, was discovered at Clive Barracks in Tern Hill, Shropshire, at around 9am on Saturday.

A 23-year-old soldier has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Detectives said the man in custody at Shrewsbury police station is based at the site near Market Drayton.

One of the victim's three brothers, Jason McNeill, speaking on behalf of the family, said: " Geoff was born in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, and dedicated his life to the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment. He served his country with the highest degree of honour and dedication.

"He was a much loved son, brother, uncle and friend and touched the lives of all who had the pleasure of meeting him.

"The family would like to give thanks for the continued support of the Army, police and all who knew and loved Geoff. Our love for him remains as strong as ever. Rest in peace soldier. Faugh-a-Ballagh."

A post-mortem examination was carried out over the weekend but further tests have been ordered to try to establish the cause of death, a West Mercia Police spokesman said.

The coroner has also been informed.

Detective inspector Steve Tonks, of West Mercia Police, said: ''We have made an arrest in connection with the death.

''The investigation is in its early stages and extensive inquiries are continuing.

''A post-mortem conducted by a Home Office pathologist was held yesterday and further examination and tests are being carried out to help establish the cause of death."

An MoD spokesman said: ''Our thoughts are with the family and friends affected at this difficult time.

''We are assisting West Mercia Police with their investigation and it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further at this time.''

The dead soldier is from the same battalion deployed only last month to help flood-stricken communities in Worcestershire after record levels of rain fell across the UK.

Members of the unit met Prime Minister David Cameron when he toured some of the county's flood defences at Upton-upon-Severn on February 17.

During that visit, Mr Cameron praised the soldiers' efforts in using their troop carriers to set up a shuttle bus service getting townspeople from one side of the flooded river to the other, while residents also expressed their delight at the military's presence.

The unit, which has seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, returned to its Shropshire barracks after assisting with the flooding civil emergency.


From Belfast Telegraph