Northern Ireland

Eamonn Magee Jr: Father describes heartache at loss of 'blue-eyed boy'

Eamonn Magee Jr Image copyright Released by PSNI
Image caption Eamonn Magee Jr was stabbed in the early hours of Saturday and died in hospital from his injuries

The father of professional boxer Eamonn Magee Jr has spoken of his family's devastation at the loss of his "blue-eyed boy".

The victim, aged 22, who was the son of former WBU welterweight champion Eamonn Magee Sr, was stabbed on Saturday morning near west Belfast.

Police have been granted more time to question a 32-year-old man.

Eamonn Magee Sr said: "Such a short life took away from him, such a beautiful child."

"I don't know how to get my head around it."

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Media captionEamonn Magee Sr has been speaking to BBC News NI's Lisa McAllister

He added: "One minute he's there, the next minute he's not. You think this happens to other people till it happens to yourself, till it comes to your front door.

"I always called my son my blue eyed boy from he was able to speak. He was always with me, all his life, growing up.

"You hope you are going to wake up and it's going to be a dream, but it's not it's a reality."

Police said Eamonn Magee Jr, was stabbed "a number of times" in the back garden of a friend's house in Summerhill Park, Twinbrook, outside west Belfast.

Image caption Eamonn Magee Jr was always "full of fun" his father said

Detectives believe his killer had been "lying in wait" for him.

His father told the BBC that his son had been a "pleasure to rear".

"He was always full of laughter, always full of fun, he went everywhere with me. When he grew up he done everything for his mother, would have done anything for anybody," said Eamonn Magee Sr.

"Next month he was running the half marathon for Tiny Life in Lisburn. He just liked doing things for people. He was such a lovely child."

Eamonn Magee Sr found out that his son had died in a phone call in the middle of the night.

He added: "What a journey that is, from your house over to the hospital to identify your son. It's a journey that I wouldn't wish on any parent."

'Murder weapon'

Det Ch Insp John McVea, who is leading the murder investigation, described the attack as "vicious".

Image caption Det Ch Insp John McVea said the victim's family were "devastated"

He told reporters that a knife believed to have been used in the attack went missing from a property nearby.

Despite ongoing searches, it has not yet been found, but police displayed a knife that they believe is "identical" to the murder weapon as part of their public appeal.

Image caption Police displayed a knife that they believe is "identical" to the murder weapon

Mr McVea said the young boxer, 22, who was an engineering student at Ulster University, was stabbed as he came out of his friend's house to check on a pizza delivery.

"Nobody would have known that Eamonn would have been coming out of the house to look for the pizza delivery, therefore we believe that the person was lying in wait for Eamonn as he would have come out of the house."

'Promising future'

He said the victim had a "promising future ahead of him".

"He won a number of fights in the early stages of his boxing career. He had a promising future and it is particularly sad for that to have been taken away so needlessly."

Image caption Police continued searching for the murder weapon and other evidence on Sunday
Image caption Officers appealed for information on a person who left the vicinity of Beckett's Bar and walked to the Twinbrook estate during the early hours of Saturday

Police said they want to hear from witnesses who were in the area between 01:30 BST and 03:00 BST on Saturday.

"We believe the attack happened at 2.30 in the morning. But we believe the person may have been in the area for some time prior to the attack," Mr McVea said.

He also appealed to anyone who saw a person leaving the vicinity of Beckett's Bar on the Stewartstown Road before making their way down through the Twinbrook estate during the early hours of Saturday.

The 32-year-old man being questioned about the attack was arrested in Dunmurry on Saturday.

He is believed to be the estranged husband of the friend Mr Magee Jr was visiting.

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