31/07/2006

Five arrested over Tobermore murder

Five people have now been arrested in connection with the murder of a man in County Londonderry in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The victim, who has been named as 36-year-old Ronald Mackie, from close to Stirling in Scotland, is believed to have been visiting family in Northern Ireland.

He is understood to have been watching an Orange Parade in Maghera, before going into the Tobermore United Football Club, prior to his murder.

It was originally believed that the victim had died as a result of a hit and run incident outside the football club on the Maghera Road in Tobermore, however police have since revealed that he was beaten by a gang sometime between 1.45am and 2.15am, then left in the path of an oncoming vehicle.

A murder investigation has been launched and a PSNI spokesperson has said that two men were arrested yesterday, and are currently assisting police with their inquiries.

Police have said that they are investigating a loyalist link to the killing.

It is believed that the driver of the vehicle stopped for a short time after striking the man, but then drove off.

The car is thought to have been red in colour, with a passenger on board, and police have appealed for both the driver and passenger to come forward as they may have vital witness information in relation to the murder.

Sinn Féin Mid Ulster MP Martin McGuinness, today said: "This is an horrific death.

"It appears that this man was very badly beaten and sustained serious injures before being deliberately left on the road and hit by a motorist."

He continued: "No matter who this man is he was someone’s son, brother or father and his family will be mourning his loss.

"I am also sure that the motorist is traumatised by this.”

Ulster Unionist Assembly Member for Mid-Ulster, Billy Armstrong today said that he is shocked by the murder and appealed to those with information to come forward.

He said: “The killing of a Scottish man near Tobermore in the early hours of Saturday morning is shocking and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. I would appeal to anyone with any information, no matter how small, to forward it to the Police without hesitation.

“The tolerance of young people at present time seems to be very low. As parents we must encourage our children to be more tolerant of other people’s attitudes and feelings.

“Whatever the circumstances of this situation a young man has lost his life and our heart goes out to his family at this sad time.”

(EF)

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