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Fresh appeal 20 years on from brutal murder

January 28, 2019

Twenty years on from the horrific murder of Newry man Eamon Collins, detectives investigating the killing have made a fresh appeal for information.

Mr Collins (45) was out walking his dogs in the early morning of 27th January 1999 when he was subjected to a brutal and sustained attack during which he was repeatedly beaten and stabbed in the head and face.  His body was found around around 6.00am at Doran’s Hill, just a short distance from his home in the Barcroft estate.  

The PSNI’s Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB) is leading the investigation and Detective Inspector Conor Sweeney has made a fresh appeal for information that may identify the killers.  He revealed “a full DNA profile”, which detectives believe belongs to one of the killer gang, has been recovered from the crime scene.

“With the advances in DNA technology, I believe we are close to identifying this person,” he said.  “Detectives will be following a number of lines of enquiry in the weeks ahead and those responsible should expect police attention.”

He appealed to those responsible to examine their conscience and “do the right thing” by “making themselves known”, or members of the local community who may have had knowledge of the murder at the time.

“Twenty years have now passed since this merciless killing. I ask those who were involved, or heard accounts of what happened, either in the immediate aftermath or indeed over the years, to think about the devastating effect this has had on Eamon’s family, and to come forward to the police,” Det Inp Sweeney said.

“Eamon Collins was attacked while out walking his dogs in the peaceful, lonely early hours of the morning. A car full of people pulled up beside him and launched a sudden, sustained and savage assault. Beaten about the body with blunt objects and stabbed repeatedly in the head and face, Eamon never stood a chance that morning.

“It’s a fact that elements of Eamon Collins’ life have been highly publicised in the media and other public records. However, that past was behind him and he himself had publicly rejected violence and turned away from those involved in such violence. At the time of his brutal murder, Eamon was simply a devoted husband and a loving father. The killers left in their destructive wake a grieving widow and four fatherless children.”

Stating how police are reliant on information from the public to help solve such crimes, he continued: “In this instance, the DNA profile was extracted from blood left at the scene. Forensic analysis of the blood tells us that the person who left it was male, and that he himself suffered a severe injury during this frenzied attack.  

“There will be people in the community, whether in the Newry area or south of the border or anywhere else, who are aware of an acquaintance, a relative, a neighbour suffering such an unexplained wound. It may stand out in their minds as having occurred on the same day that they heard about Eamon Collins’ murder. This is information that we need people to tell us.

“A number of people were involved in Eamon’s murder. They know who they are and they are going to have to live with that for the rest of their lives. While they are not before the courts today, police will continue the investigation with the objective of putting them there.  I would appeal to them to do the right thing and make a difference to Eamon’s family by making themselves known.  We are appealing for assistance from the local community who we still believe can help us, despite the amount of time which has elapsed.”

Anyone with information can contact detectives in Legacy Investigation Branch on 101 or email LIBEnquiries@psni.pnn.police.uk.

 Alternatively, information can also be provided anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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