Minutes after this image was taken man who gang raped Belfast woman plunged to his death from window
Four minutes after this CCTV image was captured, gang rapist Dessie Mee plunged to his death from a third-floor window.
Detectives are now exploring the possibility that the 45-year-old grandfather may have been murdered and thrown from top of the Millers House apartment complex in Newtownards.
Two men and a woman arrested in connection with his death last Tuesday have been released on bail pending further inquiries.
Mee, then known by the name Desmond William Gallagher, was jailed for 12 years in 1990 for the gang rape of a woman in east Belfast.
He also has convictions for abusing young girls while a teenager.
Officers working on the Mee death case have since established that:
- Mee had only been in Millers House for four minutes before falling from the window;
- he had gone there to return a mobile phone that he had been accused of stealing;
- the window he fell from was only 30cm wide and 60cm in height; and
- a number of suspects in the case have links to both the UVF and South-east Antrim UDA.
A security source said: “There is a strong belief that Mee may have been murdered. All the evidence we’ve gathered so far points to this.”
Police chiefs have so far stopped short of describing the incident as murder, however this newspaper has learned that two separate PSNI Major Investigation Teams (MIT) are working on the case.
Forensic evidence including footprints and fingerprints taken from the apartment are currently being examined with the results due back within weeks.
A senior detective added: “Although we are currently treating Dessie Mee’s death as suspicious we are devoting substantial resources to it and have grave concerns about how he met his death.”
Friends of Mee, who lived in the West Winds estate in Newtownards, say he visited the Millers House apartments to return a mobile phone that he had been accused of stealing.
He was only at the complex four minutes before falling to his death into an enclosed courtyard.
Up to 10 people saw him plunge 25ft onto concrete slabs from a tiny 30x60cm window.
Mee died from injuries he sustained after hitting the ground and there is no indication that he had been assaulted beforehand.
A number of people standing in the courtyard rushed to his aid and phoned 999, however he passed away a short time later.
Although some of these individuals have made statements to police others have yet to come forward.
Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddis, who is heading the investigation into Mee’s death, appealed for witnesses to contact police.
He said: “We are appealing for information about Mr Mee’s movements on Tuesday and in the days before that.
“We are also appealing for information about activity in and around apartment number 25 at Millers House on July 26 between 6pm and 8.30pm.”
Sunday Life understands that the PSNI believe a number of individuals with ties to loyalist paramilitaries may have additional information about Mee’s death.
Among them is a teenager from a prominent loyalist family in north Down whose father is an ex-UVF prisoner, and a South-east Antrim UDA member who fled Newtownabbey after falling foul of the terror gang over dealing drugs.
“Our concern is that these individuals could seek help from paramilitaries in covering up the true circumstances of what really happened to Mee,” explained a high-level security source.
Mee’s death last Tuesday was the second tragedy to his family in as many weeks – his daughter Melissa lost her battle with cervical cancer on July 12.
Friends say that although he had been drinking heavily to cope with the pain, Mee had been sober for around a week before his death. They have also ruled out suicide, claiming that there is no way he would consider taking his own life.
Residents at Millers House expressed shock at Mee’s death.
Louise Crossan, who lives on the floor on which he fell from, said: “I heard the second ambulance arrived. I looked out and saw a guy lying in the street. It has just stunned everyone.”
Another young mother at the Helm Housing block said: “I looked out and could hear the neighbours shouting up to the top floor and there was a man’s body lying on the ground. People were rushing over to him.
“I didn’t know what to think so I closed the blinds so the kids didn’t go near the window. I wouldn’t want them remembering a sight like that for the rest of their lives.”
Anyone with information about Dessie Mee’s death should contact Newtownards PSNI or phone the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111..
Resident saw fall horror
A man has told how he frantically fought to save the life of Dessie Mee after his fatal plunge, writes Christopher Woodhouse.
Mark Bruce told Sunday Life that he rushed to help the 45-year-old after he fell from the window at an apartment block in Newtownards last week.
“My girlfriend saw him come out of the top window, it was like he was swimming in the air, he landed and hit his head on the grating below,” Mark told Sunday Life.
“I ran out and when I got to him I could see that his head was badly injured. I worked on him, he was conscious but his eyes weren’t focused and he didn’t say anything.
“Then the paramedics came and worked on him. I went to the hospital in a car behind the ambulance but he died on the way.”
Mark, who knew Mee and his brother, added: “He was only dropping off a mobile phone, that was the reality of it.
“Everybody here is in shock. My girlfriend is traumatised by it and can’t sleep.”
Some flowers and a candle have been left in the courtyard of the Regent Street complex near where Mr Mee fell.
One tribute read: “Always loved, never forgotten”.
Belfast Telegraph Digital