Northern Ireland

Stephen Carson funeral: Family's life 'torn apart by darkness'

Image caption The funeral took place at Holy Trinity church on Saturday

There can be no justification for the way in which Stephen Carson was murdered, a priest at his funeral in west Belfast has said.

Father Brendan Smyth was speaking at Requiem Mass at Holy Trinity church.

Mr Carson, 28, died after he was shot in the head at a house at Walmer Street in south Belfast last month.

Police said he was having a meal with his partner and nine-year-old son when at least three men carrying a hammer and a shotgun burst into the house.

Fr Smyth told mourners in west Belfast on Saturday that a family had had their lives "torn apart by darkness".

There was "an overwhelming sense of humanity's inability to learn from the past and the futility of such heinous and despicable acts," he said.

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Police released a photo of Stephen Carson as they appealed for information

"Life is so cheap that it can be snuffed out in the blink of an eye or by the pulling of a trigger. There is no justification for treating life in such a way. "

Fr Smyth said it was "despicable" and that Mr Carson's family had been left to suffer.

"They shoulder the cross that has been thrust upon them," he said.

Martin Cassidy, BBC Newsline

On a bitterly cold day, the family of Stephen Carson arrive for his funeral at Holy Trinity church in Turf Lodge.

The hearse carrying his coffin is decorated with floral tributes, "Brother", "Son" and "Fiancé"

Some family members are wearing tee shirts printed with an image of the 28-year-old.

He leaves behind grieving parents, brothers and a sister.

His fiancée and two young sons also followed the coffin out of the church to the sound of a popular rap song, while in the background the church bell tolled.

Father Brendan Smyth said the young man's family had been devastated by his loss, their lives torn apart.

The murder, he told those who had gathered, was a sad indictment of society today adding that, in some circles, life is cheap.

Police say the murder of Stephen Carson was part of a criminal feud.

Fr Smyth says there had been efforts by a local priest to find a resolution.

"Violence and and retribution will never bring resolution," he said.

The main line of inquiry for police is that Mr Carson was shot as part of a criminal feud. At the time of the shooting, a detective said Mr Carson had been known to police, but had been trying to get his life together.

Image caption Mourners were told it was "despicable" that Mr Carson's family had been left to suffer

Detectives are also investigating a possible link to the murder of pizza delivery driver Kieran McManus in west Belfast almost three years ago.

In April 2013, Mr McManus was shot a number of times at close range in a car park outside the pizza shop where he worked on Kennedy Way.

Police have appealed for information about the shooting.

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