Northern Ireland news

Tributes paid to businessman (23) who died after Co Armagh assault

  Jake Bailey-Sloan

A 23-year-old businessman who died following an assault in Co Armagh has been remembered as a "bright light and a truly admirable person".

Police said they had launched a murder investigation following the death of Jake Bailey-Sloan.

Tributes have been paid to the entrepreneur from Portadown, who was just 19 when he transformed a derelict textile mill in the town into a successful indoor adventure centre.

He was described as someone who was "bursting with energy and enthusiasm" and "one of the most kind hearted guys".

Gerda Visinskaite paid a moving tribute to Jake online via Facebook, writing: “The love of my life is gone. He touched so many hearts but he had mine.

“I am in one million pieces. There are no words. I love you forever and ever Jake.”

A death notice described Jake as the “loving partner of Gerda, cherished son of Leanne and Gordon Dreyer and Ross and Emma Sloan, also dearest grandson of David and Valerie Bailey and Milne and Linda Sloan.”

Mr Bailey-Sloan collapsed moments after the attack in Portadown town centre in the early hours of Sunday and was taken to hospital.

Police confirmed he had died as a result of his injuries.

A 22-year-old man initially arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent was later rearrested on suspicion of murder.

Detectives were granted an additional 36 hours to question him.

Mr Bailey-Sloan was regarded as a "passionate businessman", who set up 'The Mill NI', a popular indoor activity centre, in 2017.

He had previously lived with his grandparents in South Africa where they run an orphanage, but had returned home to study at Queen’s University.

He launched his indoor activity business after being unable to find anywhere locally to enjoy paint-balling, his favourite hobby in South Africa.

He told Armagh I at the time of his business opening that the "whole project has been awesome, it gives me butterflies thinking about it".

"It sort of snowballed to be honest," he said.

"It started out as something smaller and then just became quite big and feedback so far has been really positive."

Numerous tributes from friends, colleagues and business associates describe him as "an extremely successful business owner at a young age".

The adventure centre, The Jungle, worked with Mr Bailey-Sloan at delivering airsoft at its Moneymore venue.

"Jake was a bright light, a young gentleman and a truly admirable person," it wrote on social media.

"Our thoughts are with his family and all his colleagues at this devastating time.

"Shine bright our friend."

Independent councillor Paul Berry also wrote that it was "such sad, tragic and devastating news on the passing of this fine young lad".

"I had pleasure of knowing him over the years and he was caring, helpful and a passionate businessman, I remember us chatting over a coffee and him sharing with me his vision of The Mill seeking my help with planning, building control advice," he said.

"He was bursting with energy to make it happen."

Friends have also described their "huge loss" with one pal recalling how after meeting in primary school, "I watched you grow into the most respectful and selfless young man".

Another friend said "any-time I met you there was nothing but warm welcomes, such a positive energy and enthusiasm for what you were doing in The Mill".

"You will be sorely missed by everyone who knew you, by every new player that heads through the doors of the business you opened, by not only your colleagues but your team, the family that you started there."

Another added: "Thank you for the smiles and for the way you impacted so many lives".

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news