Bellaghy teenager died 'protecting sister'

Lauren O'Neill Lauren O'Neill, 18, was shot dead

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The teenage girl shot dead in Bellaghy, County Londonderry, on Saturday morning was 18-year-old Lauren O'Neill.

Her 21-year-old sister Brenda remains in a critical condition in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Bellaghy parish priest Fr Andy Dolan said the teenager died trying to protect her sister.

Police have charged a 26-year-old man with murder and attempted murder. He is due to appear at Londonderry Magistrates' Court on Monday morning.

Two children were in the house, in William Court, at the time of the shooting.

Fr Dolan told BBC Radio Ulster: "When Brenda was under attack, Lauren dived in to save her and in the process lost her own life.

Two released

"I'd say they were close in life and in death couldn't be closer."

A man and a woman earlier questioned on suspicion of assisting an offender have been released.

Assembly Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he had visited the women's family over the weekend.

William Court in Bellaghy The shooting happened at William Court in Bellaghy

He said the family was in deep shock and had appealed to the media to respect their privacy.

"This family is clearly deeply shocked and traumatised by what has happened over the weekend," he said.

"I spent some time with the family and offered our support and that of the wider community at this time.

"The family have asked me to appeal to the media for privacy as they seek to come to terms with this tragedy in the coming days."

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