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Police given extra time to quiz Portadown double murder suspect

A man linked to the murder of two Portadown pensioners was spotted wandering naked in Newry earlier on Friday

Police investigating the murder of an elderly couple in Portadown were yesterday given more time to question a suspect.

Michael and Marjorie Cawdery, both 83, were stabbed in their Co Armagh home on Friday afternoon in what a senior officer described as a brutal attack.

A 40-year-old man was arrested after the killings after being found close to a vehicle stolen from the couple's house.

It is understood the suspect had been at a mental health facility at Craigavon Area Hospital shortly before the killing. It is not clear if he absconded from the unit or left unchallenged.

Over the weekend a picture emerged apparently showing the man wandering naked around Newry on Friday morning.

It is thought he was then taken to Craigavon Area Hospital by paramedics, where he is understood to have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

The Southern Trust is refusing to make any comment on the episode, citing a "live police investigation".

Last night its "wall of silence" was criticised by Upper Bann MLA Dolres Kelly.

The SDLP representative said the trust needed to give reassurances to a concerned public.

"Clearly there are many questions that need to be addressed in both the short and medium term but it's unacceptable to say nothing at all," she said.

"We need to be assured that the trust is carrying out a full investigation into this matter and ensuring the public's immediate concerns are addressed – a wall of silence in such circumstances only heightens public concern."

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said the trust and the PSNI needed to establish a "clear timeline of events".

"It's incumbent on the police and the Southern Trust that together they tie down a sequence of events and ensure there are mechanisms to deal with such incidents in future," he said.

"Certainly there are lessons to be learned about how you monitor vulnerable people."

In the wake of the murder, the family of Mr and Mrs Cawdery described the double killing as "awful and incomprehensible".

In a statement they said the murder had deprived the family of "two wonderful people Michael and Marjorie who were our father, mother, brother, sister and grandparents".

They thanked the police and those who expressed sympathy and offered help.

"Finally, we ask for respect and privacy in the coming days as the family try to come to terms with their loss," the statement said.

Police and emergency services were called to the pensioners' house in Upper Ramone Park in Portadown at around 3.40pm on Friday after the couple were found dead by a relative.

Mr Geddes said a grey Kangoo van with the registration NJZ 6101, stolen from the couple's home, was found around 5pm in the nearby Edenderry area.

Relatives described the murders as incomprehensible.

In a statement the family said: "The awful and incomprehensible events of Friday 26 May have deprived our family of two wonderful people, Michael and Marjorie, who were our father, mother, brother, sister and grandparents."

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