Northern Ireland

Teacher May Stevens (64) found dead after north Belfast burglary

Police at the scene at Lismoyne Park, north Belfast after a woman's body was found at a house. Picture by Mal McCann
Police at the scene at Lismoyne Park, north Belfast after a woman's body was found at a house. Picture by Mal McCann

THE 64-year-old maths teacher found dead after a burglary in her north Belfast home was looking forward to becoming a grandmother next month.

Burglars broke into the Lismoyne Park property, off North Circular Road, which May Stevens shared with her husband Ivor between 1.30am and 2am on Sunday.

Mr Stevens, a retired quantity surveyor who is understood to be in ill health, was sleeping at the time.

Police believe another burglary in the street was carried out around that time by the same team of burglars and are investigating links with a third home break-in during the early hours of Sunday in the area.

As well as making off with some "property" from the house, the mother-of-two's red Hyundai i30 was stolen by the burglars.

The vehicle failed to stop for police a short time later and, after tracing its ownership, officers called to her home shortly after 3am where they discovered her body.

Mrs Stevens - who had been a teacher at Belfast Boys Model secondary school and, more recently, Newtownabbey Regional College - was last seen alive in her house late on Saturday evening.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Montgomery confirmed yesterday that they are "treating Mrs Stevens's death as suspicious".

A post mortem examination was carried out yesterday and police were awaiting the results.

The car was found abandoned at Glenbank Place in the nearby Ballysillan area at around 6.45am on Sunday.

Mr Montgomery said two men were seen locking the car before leaving it and making off towards Crumlin Road.

"I am keen to trace the movements of the car, a red Hyundai I30, bearing registration plates NRZ 3370, in north Belfast between 1.30am and 6.45am," he said.

"The vehicle has damage to its nearside.

"I would also like to speak to anyone who has information about two men who were seen walking away from the car after it was abandoned in Glenbank Place in the direction of the Crumlin Road.

"I am investigating a possible link to two other attempted burglaries in the area in the early hours of Sunday morning - one of which was also in Lismoyne Park.

"I can fully understand the shock and devastation felt in the community today following this sickening incident.

"May touched the lives of many people living in this community as she was a long standing public servant.

"This incident has left the Stevens family mourning the loss of a wife, mother and sister. Mrs Stevens was looking forward to becoming a grandmother."

He appealed to the burglars to hand themselves in.

Mr Montgomery said that there were few other vehicles on the road in the area at that time and appealed for any one who saw the car or its occupants - understood to be two men - to contact detectives in Musgrave Street on 101, extension 17019 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.