Northern Ireland news

Father-of-two Brian 'Barney' Phelan was murdered, police say

Brian Phelan (32) was killed on a rural road outside Newry. Picture by Mark Pearce

A man murdered in what was described as an "unprovoked" knife attack in broad daylight on a rural road was last night named as Brian Phelan (32).

The father-of-two, from the Bessbrook area of south Armagh, was stabbed on Carrivekenney Road outside Newry yesterday afternoon.

The alarm was raised at 3.15pm and the Ambulance Service despatched a rapid response unit with a paramedic. An A&E crew and the charity air ambulance crew was also scrambled.

However, Mr Phelan is understood to have died of his wounds at the scene, which is around two miles from Daisy Hill Hospital.

A 27-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of his murder.

Police are now searching for a car they believed was used in the killing.

Read more: Devastated mother of Brian Phelan's children says she 'has to keep strong'

Detective Chief Inspector Eamonn Corrigan said today: "I am making a specific appeal for the public’s assistance in locating a blue coloured Peugeot 206, registration SX53 BYW, that we believe was involved in the murder". 

"I believe this car is somewhere in the Newry area and I am appealing for anyone who sees the car not to touch it but to contact police immediately.  I would also appeal to anyone who was in the area of Carrivekeeney Road or the general Newry area who has any dash-cam or mobile phone footage of the Peugeot car to get in touch with us."

Murder victim Brian Phelan (32) was a father-of-two. Picture by Mark Pearce

Members of Mr Phelan's family broke down in tears after visiting the scene.

His devastated sister, Michelle Phelan, wrote on her Facebook page: "Only take the best - my bro, the best in the world."

His other sister Ashling Phelan wrote simply: "Love you so much bro".

Mr Phelan, a bricklayer known to friends as `Barney', was described last night as "a lovely fella" and "an absolute gentleman" who was devoted to his two young children.

His childhood friend Kyle Keenan said he was heartbroken about the loss of someone "who I've known since I was about 10".

"You where always there when I called you no matter what you woulda done anything to help anyone if they were stuck," he wrote.

"You're a good friend and I will have only but good memories of you... The best daddy ever."

A police spokesman confirmed last night that the death is being treated as murder.

Detective Chief Inspector Eamon Corrigan appealed to anyone with any information which could assist detectives to contact them in Newry on 101 or anonymously on Crimestoppers at 0800 555 111.

Sinn Féin councillor Roisin Mulgrew said people in Bessbrook and neighbouring Camlough are deeply upset by the unexpected loss to a well-known local family.

"News of the death of this young man as a result of a stabbing has shocked and stunned the local community here in Bessbrook and Camlough" she said.

"It is quite a rural area and certainly not something commonplace in the south Armagh area.

"My thoughts go out to the family and friends of the victim who are trying to come to terms with this terrible news.

"Circumstances are unclear at present however I would appeal to anyone that has any information about this incident to contact the police."

Shocked friends and relatives of Mr Phelan paid tribute to the murdered man yesterday. Picture by Mark Pearce

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