Northern Ireland

Eamonn Magee Jr: Killer 'lay in wait' for young boxer

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

Police investigating the murder of professional boxer Eamonn Magee Jr have said they believe his killer was "lying in wait" for him before the attack.

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

Police said he was stabbed "a number of times" in the back garden of a friend's house in Summerhill Park, Twinbrook.

They are continuing to question a 32-year-old man on suspicion of murder.

'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, 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's family has been "devastated" by the murder.

"Eamonn was so popular and had such a promising future ahead of him," Mr McVea said

"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 who is being questioned about the attack was arrested in Dunmurry on Saturday.

'Terrible'

Friends and fellow boxers have paid emotional tributes to the victim.

Former Commonwealth heavyweight champion Martin Rogan said he had known Eamonn Magee Jr since he was a child.

Image caption Martin Rogan said Eamonn Magee Jr was a "beautiful kid"

Mr Rogan trained with him at the Immaculata Amateur Boxing Club in west Belfast.

"He was a joy to be around and you couldn't help but love him, he was a beautiful kid," he said.

"Young Eamonn, for his life to be taken so suddenly and quickly, in such a brutal way, is terrible."

Household names from the boxing world have also paid tributes on Twitter.

Former World Champion Barry McGuigan tweeted: "Dreadful news about Eamon Magee Jr, deepest sympathies to his family."

Ricky Hatton tweeted: "Just been sickened with the news Eamonn Magee Jr has been stabbed to death. My love goes out to Eamonn Sr. Thinking of you my old friend. x"

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