Northern Ireland

Death of car theft victim May Stevens treated as suspicious

Lismoyne Park
Image caption Lismoyne Park was cordoned off for most of Sunday

Police are treating the death of a 64-year-old woman as "suspicious" after officers found her dead in her home on the same night that her car was stolen.

The body of May Stevens was discovered in her house at Lismoyne Park, north Belfast, shortly after 03:00 GMT on Sunday.

Police said her car was stolen up to 90 minutes before her body was found.

Officers had called to the property to inquire about her vehicle which had failed to stop for police.

'Abandoned'

Detectives are now awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of the mother of two's death.

Det Ch Insp Peter Montgomery said: "At this stage we are treating Mrs Stevens' death as suspicious.

"We now know that her car was stolen between 1.30am and 2am on Sunday before it was found abandoned in Glenbank Place at around 6.45am.

"I am keen to trace the movements of the car, a red Hyundai I30, bearing registration plates NRZ 3370, in north Belfast between 1.30am and 6.45am. The vehicle has damage to its nearside.

"I would also like to speak to anyone who has information about two men who were seen walking away from the car after it was abandoned in Glenbank Place in the direction of the Crumlin Road."

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Det Ch Insp Peter Montgomery described it as a sickening incident

Police said the theft of Mrs Stevens' car may be linked to two other attempted burglaries in the area during the early hours of Sunday, one of which was also at Lismoyne Park.

The street, which is off the North Circular Road, was cordoned off for much of Sunday.

At the time, police and paramedics confirmed they were attending an "ongoing incident".

A spokesman for the ambulance service said they attended the house at about 03:00 GMT.

'Shock and devastation'

Mrs Stevens was last seen alive at her home on Saturday evening, according to detectives.

The pensioner was a former maths teacher who worked at the Boys' Model in Belfast and also at Newtownabbey Regional College.

Det Ch Insp Montgomery described her as a "long-standing public servant" who had "touched the lives of many people living in this community".

The officer revealed that Mrs Stevens was "looking forward to becoming a grandmother" and said the incident had left her family mourning the loss of a wife, mother and sister.

"I can fully understand the shock and devastation felt in the community today following this sickening incident," he said.

"We take the issue of crime against older people extremely seriously and remain committed to putting those responsible before the courts."