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Community 'reeling' over loss of best friends found dead in Coleraine

Nigel McGraw (left) and Russell McAfee were found dead in an apartment in Coleraine 
Paul Ainsworth

TWO men found dead in a property in Coleraine have been described as best friends who spent weekends together watching football.

The pair were named locally as 50-year-old Nigel McGraw and Russell McAfee, understood to be in his early sixties.

They were found at Mr McAfee's home in the Elm's Park area of Coleraine yesterday afternoon at around 2.30pm by Mr McGraw's father.

Emergency services were called to the property and a PSNI spokesperson confirmed the "sudden deaths of two men" adding "there are no further details at this stage".

There was speculation in the local area last night that the pair may have succumbed to carbon monoxide fumes, but the NI Fire and Rescue Service made no comment on it, with a spokesperson saying yesterday afternoon only that two fire crews had attended the scene from Coleraine Fire Station.

The Irish News spoke with an uncle of Nigel McGraw, who was in the property on Saturday visiting his nephew and best friend.

Lenny McGraw said his brother Robert, Nigel's father, found the pair yesterday before alerting the emergency services.

"The whole family is just devastated, almost lost for words. Nigel and Russell were the best of friends, and spent every weekend together watching the football. I was also very close to Nigel, and had been to visit them on Saturday at Russell's. Nigel would have always checked in on me to see how I was, and was wouldn't have hesitated to come and help you out if you needed a bit of handywork done.

"But every weekend Nigel and Russell would be visiting each other and watching the football. It was their shared passion, even though Nigel was a Man United fan and Russell loved Liverpool. But they both were big Rangers fans and had arranged to go to Ibrox for the first time on December 4 to watch a match. They were so excited."

He added: "Even at Christmas, they would take turns going to each other's homes to spend the day together. It's just a tragedy what's happened and we're completely heartbroken."

Coleraine DUP councillor George Duddy described the deaths as "shocking", adding: "This has left the Ballysally area reeling. My thoughts are with the families of both men at this difficult time, and they have the support of the wider community as they come to terms with this tragedy."

PUP councillor Russell Watton said: "Our hearts go out to the families of both men following this shocking and sudden loss."

Meanwhile, East Derry SDLP MLA Cara Hunter offered condolences to the families of both men, adding: "I would ask that people give the police space to carry out their investigation into these sudden deaths so they can establish exactly what took place here."

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