Burglary not suspected in murder of Anne O'Neill in Finaghy

Anne O’Neill died following an attack at a house in Ardmore Avenue in Finaghy, south Belfast, early on Saturday morning
Andrew Madden

BURGLARY or a home intruder scenario are not being investigated by police as possible lines of inquiry in the murder of Anne O'Neill, The Irish News understands.

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of murder after the death of the 51-year-old woman in Belfast in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Anne O'Neill was found injured in the back garden of a house in Ardmore Avenue in Finaghy, south Belfast, after police received a report of a "woman in distress" at around 7am.

Paramedics arrived and treated her at scene, however she was pronounced dead a short time later.

Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said he had spoken to Ardmore Avenue residents who told him they were "woken by a woman's screams".

"I got contacted by constituents who said they heard a woman screaming in the early morning, they responded to that," he said.

"I'm told that later, a woman did come out of a house, that she had sustained head injuries, and that paramedics did work on her but we know that since then, the lady has died."

It is understood Ms O'Neill was visiting her elderly parents who lived at the address in Ardmore Avenue.

SDLP councillor for the area, Donal Lyons, visited the scene on Saturday and said the residents were in shock.

"There's a genuine sense of shock in the area although Ardmore and Finaghy are in general very safe and settled areas, with a well established sense of neighbourliness, and this awful tragedy is not going to change that," he said.

"My deepest sympathies are with this family circle after such a profound trauma."

The quiet cul-de-sac was sealed off by police for much of Saturday and yesterday while sniffer dogs combed the area.

Less the two hours after police arrived at the Finaghy crime scene, heavily armed officers raided an address in Malone Avenue – some 2.5 miles away – and arrested two men aged 23 and 27 on suspicion of murder.

A large section of Malone Avenue, which is predominantly a student area, was cordoned off by police for several hours on Saturday while searches were carried out.

In a statement, the PSNI confirmed a murder inquiry was underway and appealed to the public for information regarding the attack.

"At around 7am this morning police received a report of a woman in distress in Ardmore Avenue," Detective Chief Inspector Geoffrey Boyce said.

"Police responded and a woman was discovered injured in the rear garden of a property in the area. Despite attempts by emergency services at the scene the woman died from her injuries.

"I am appealing for anyone who resides in the Ardmore Avenue and Ardmore Park area of Finaghy and who have CCTV installed at their address to contact detectives at Musgrave Police Station on 101 quoting reference 338 21/10/17."

Detectives were las tnight granted a further 36 hours to question the two men arrested on suspicion of Ms O'Neill's murder.

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