Northern Ireland news

Priest at murder victim Damien Heagney's funeral says his death 'leaves a lot of unanswered questions'

Murder victim Damien Heageny
Connla Young

A priest at the funeral of murder victim Damien Heagney has said his death "leaves a lot of unanswered questions".

His remains were found after police searched a reservoir near Cappagh, in Co Tyrone, last month.

The 47-year-old was reported missing on July 19 - almost seven months after the last reported sighting of him.

Mr Heagney was last seen in the Dromore area of Co Tyrone on December 31.

Originally from the Dunamore area, near Cookstown, family members and friends gathered at the local St Mary’s Church for Requiem Mass.

Among items brought to the altar were a set of Rosary beads found in Mr Heagney's car.

Other items included a prayer to St Joseph that Mr Heagney carried with him and a Sacred Heart picture as a reminder of the home he was brought up in "and the great sense of faith and religion".

A family photograph taken when Mr Heagney's father John was alive along with a sod of clay from the family farm were also brought to the alter.

A model car represented Mr Heagney's love for "flashy cars" while a "soft dog" as a reminder of his pet were also presented.

During requiem Mass Fr Paddy Hughes said it was not for others to take the life of any person.

"Jesus through his earthy ministry always had a great sense of compassion and forgiveness," he said.

"And we all remember the great statement that he made, 'he who is without sin cast the first stone'.

"It's not for any of us to judge or indeed to pass sentence on another and indeed to take the life of another person."

Fr Hughes said he and others had prayed for Mr Heagney's remains to be found.

"Back in July when concerns were raised about Damien and he was reported missing I hoped and prayed that, as so many others did, that he would be found," he said.

"And that he would not be another person added to the list of the disappeared leaving his family, like many other families, in a limbo.

"Not knowing but always hoping."

The priest added that "news of Damien's death leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

"How could someone do that to another human being? he said.

"Who was responsible and why?

"Man's inhumanity to man."

A poem read at the end of Mass was greeted with applause by the congregation.

He was later buried in the adjoining cemetery.

Last month police confirmed that three properties have been searched, two in the Cookstown area and one in Dromore, as part of the investigation into his disappearance.

Items were taken away for further examination.

A further search was later carried out at a residential property in the Dungannon area.

A 50-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder after a property was searched in the Cookstown area.

He was later released on bail pending further enquiries.

Northern Ireland news