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Vigil held for nursing assistant, 23, ‘taken too soon and so cruelly’

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Claudia Savage, David Young, PA

06 December, 2023 19:32

A vigil held for nursing assistant Odhran Kelly has heard he was a “loving and caring” man who was “taken too soon and so cruelly”.

Police launched a murder investigation on Sunday after the discovery of a body in the Edward Street area of Lurgan, Co Armagh.

Detectives investigating the murder formally identified Mr Kelly, 23, on Wednesday.

Mr Kelly’s body was found beside a burning car in Maple Court in the early hours of Sunday.

On Wednesday hundreds of people gathered at a vigil in remembrance of Mr Kelly in Edward Street.

Many brought balloons, candles and flowers, while some of his family members wore T-shirts reading ‘Justice for Odhran’.

A vigil held for Odhran Kelly has heard that he was a ‘loving and caring’ man (Claudia Savage/PA)

John O’Dowd, Sinn Fein MLA for Upper Bann, told the crowd that the community’s heart was broken in the wake of Mr Kelly’s death.

“This is an extremely sad occasion where we gather here tonight. We stand in solidarity with Odhran’s family and friends,” he said.

“A young man’s life taken too soon and taken so cruelly.

“Our hearts are broken but we stand to comfort his friends and his loved ones.”

Odhran Kelly death
Odhran Kelly’s body was found in the Edward Street area of Lurgan (PSNI/PA)

Mr O’Dowd said Mr Kelly was a loving and caring man.

“I want to appeal to this community, not to set Lurgan, its present, its future in the image of those who robbed young Odhran of his life. Let’s set the present and the future image of Lurgan in the image of Odhran,” he said.

“Odhran cared and loved deeply for his friends and his family. He had hopes and ambitions.

“Let us as a community ensure that as we move forward, we ensure that the love and care that Odhran had for his family and friends, we continue, that we as a community reach out to each other and that we set a destiny that young Odhran would be proud of.”

Flowers and balloons left in Lurgan, Co Armagh (Claudia Savage/PA)

Fr Colum Wright, parish priest in Lurgan, thanked those in attendance on behalf of the Kelly family.

“Your love and your support and your friendship here is greatly, greatly appreciated by each and every one of them,” he said.

He added that Mr Kelly was “suddenly and violently taken from us”.

Father Colum Wright speaking at the vigil on Wednesday (Claudia Savage/PA)

Two women, aged 36 and 43, and a 31-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder remained in custody on Wednesday afternoon.

Police have said they do not believe there was an organised crime link to the killing.

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Tony Kelly said: “A post-mortem examination has now taken place and the deceased has been formally identified as Odhran Kelly.

“My thoughts are first and foremost with Mr Kelly’s family, who are left trying to come to terms with this terrible loss.”

Mr Kelly added: “While our investigation is at an early stage, I do not believe there is an organised crime link.

“We do know that, tragically, Odhran’s body was found beside a burning car in the Maple Court area in the early hours of Sunday morning.

“I’m keen to speak with three people, who are captured on CCTV, walking not far from this car.

“I believe they may have information that could assist our investigation and would ask them to get in touch as soon as possible.

“If you were in the Edward Street or Francis Street areas of Lurgan between 2am and 5am on Sunday and noticed any suspicious activity, please contact us on 101.”

Lurgan incident
PSNI forensic officers at a property in the Edward Street area of Lurgan (Liam McBurney/PA)

DUP MP Carla Lockhart reiterated the appeal from police for anyone with information about the murder to come forward.

“People in Lurgan are still shocked at this murder, and the thoughts of everyone are with the Kelly family as they struggle to comprehend this terrible tragedy,” she said.

“Police have been working tirelessly on the case and it is important that anyone with information can help bring those responsible to justice.

“There has been an appeal for footage that circulated on social media and it would be important that this might be made available for scrutiny.

“It is important justice is secured for the taking of an innocent young man’s life.”

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