'spud' | 

Claims criminal jailed for arson is stabbed and left to bleed to death on street after being lured by text

O'Hanlon was recently released from prison for an arson attack
Eamonn 'Spud' O'Hanlon 36, was murdered in Gilford Co Down on Saturday police have confirmed.

Eamonn 'Spud' O'Hanlon 36, was murdered in Gilford Co Down on Saturday police have confirmed.

Steven Moore

A notorious criminal was knifed and left to bleed to death on the street yesterday amid claims he was lured there by his killer.

Father-of-two Eamonn O'Hanlon was found with a number of stab wounds in the Hill Street area of Gilford, Co Down, after he was attacked in the early hours of the morning.

The 36-year-old - known as 'Spud' to his friends - had just been released from prison a fortnight ago for an arson attack in which his licence was revoked and he had to serve the full four years inside.

Police immediately launched a murder investigation and have already arrested four people and they were said to be "assisting police with their inquiries".

Family arrive at the murder scene of Eamonn 'spud' O'Hanlon 36, who was stabbed to death in Gilford, County Down, in the early hours of Saturday.

Family arrive at the murder scene of Eamonn 'spud' O'Hanlon 36, who was stabbed to death in Gilford, County Down, in the early hours of Saturday.

Sources at the scene yesterday told the Sunday World it's believed the murder victim may have been lured to the scene.

They say he may have been invited to attend a party during the early hours of the morning but on arrival was stabbed and "left to die".

Police officers at the murder scene of Eamonn 'spud' O'Hanlon 36, who was stabbed to death in Gilford, County Down, in the early hours of Saturday.

Police officers at the murder scene of Eamonn 'spud' O'Hanlon 36, who was stabbed to death in Gilford, County Down, in the early hours of Saturday.

The victim was well known to the police and was jailed in 2019 for four years for a horrific arson attack and in total had more than 50 criminal convictions.

O'Hanlon had set fire to his partner's home with both of them inside and then prevented the terrified mum of three from leaving the property or even calling for help.

He'd poured flammable liquid on the woman's sofa and then set it alight. Police told the court she thought she was going to die.

Police have begun a murder investigation after Eamonn 'spud' O'Hanlon 36, was stabbed to death in Gilford, County Down, in the early hours of Saturday. O'Hanlon, was stabbed outside an address on Hill Street and later died from his injuries, police said.

Police have begun a murder investigation after Eamonn 'spud' O'Hanlon 36, was stabbed to death in Gilford, County Down, in the early hours of Saturday. O'Hanlon, was stabbed outside an address on Hill Street and later died from his injuries, police said.

She spent three days on life support after the incident, lost her home and had to live in sheltered accommodation.

O'Hanlon was released on licence after serving two years behind bars but within days was back inside after he headbutted a woman in a vicious assault.

Flowers left at the murder scene of Eamonn 'spud' O'Hanlon 36, who was stabbed to death in Gilford, County Down, in the early hours of Saturday. Father of Two O'Hanlon, was stabbed outside an address on Hill Street and later died from his injuries, police said.

Flowers left at the murder scene of Eamonn 'spud' O'Hanlon 36, who was stabbed to death in Gilford, County Down, in the early hours of Saturday. Father of Two O'Hanlon, was stabbed outside an address on Hill Street and later died from his injuries, police said.

Because of that his licence was revoked and he served the full four years plus another five months on top for the headbutt and was only released two weeks ago.

O'Hanlon, who had a young son and daughter, lived in Gilford and his sister Donna lived in a property just a few yards from where he was found.

Forensic officers at the murder scene of Eamonn 'spud' O'Hanlon 36, who was stabbed to death in Gilford, County Down, in the early hours of Saturday.

Forensic officers at the murder scene of Eamonn 'spud' O'Hanlon 36, who was stabbed to death in Gilford, County Down, in the early hours of Saturday.

Friends and family gathered in the area to take in the tragic news as a police forensic team searched a property in Hill Street.

Clearly heartbroken, Donna told the Sunday World: "I didn't hear anything until someone woke me up in the middle of the night banging my front door to tell me."

Meanwhile a close friend who arrived on the scene yesterday told us: "He was my best friend, I just can't believe this has happened."

Flowers were left at the scene as a mark of respect and one resident told the Sunday World that although O'Hanlon had a "bad reputation, nobody deserves to end up like this".

"He was well known round Gilford, mostly for all the wrong reasons if you know what I mean," said the woman, who didn't want to be identified.

"He had a bad reputation for sure but nobody deserves to end up like this - it's not right."

Residents told the Sunday World it was the second tragedy to hit the family in recent years after another family member died unexpectedly.

MP for the area Carla Lockhart said the community was in shock.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased," she said.

"A death of a loved one is never easy but, in such circumstances, it is even more difficult to comprehend.

"I know the entire Gilford community will be in shock. It is important for everyone to give time and space to the PSNI to conduct their investigations.

"Our thanks must also go to the emergency services who attended to the scene. If anyone has any further information, please come forward and report it to the police."

Sinn Féin councillor Kevin Savage said: "Shocking to hear of this incident in Gilford this morning. My thoughts are with the family of the victim at this tragic time.

"If anyone has any information regarding this incident, please call the PSNI."

Police officers were conducting door-to-door inquiries yesterday morning and appealed for information to help their murder inquiry.

A PSNI spokesperson said: "Detectives can confirm that the man who was murdered in Gilford was 36-year-old Eamonn Darren O'Hanlon from north Belfast.

"Mr O'Hanlon died after he was stabbed outside an address in the Hill Street area during the early hours of this morning, Saturday 21 May.

"A fourth person has now been arrested in connection with the killing and all suspects remain in custody at this time."

In 2019 Eamonn O'Hanlon was jailed for four years at Newry Crown Court for an arson attack on his own partner which was described in court as "horrific".

Police said O'Hanlon, who stopped the mother of three from escaping or calling for help, could have killed the woman.

Judge Gordon Kerr QC ordered O'Hanlon to serve half his term in jail and the other half on licence and further imposed a five-year restraining order barring him from contacting the victim.

He'd pleaded guilty to a single count of arson, being reckless whether the life of his partner would be endangered on February 17 last year.

Speaking after he was jailed, Detective Inspector Gary McDonald said: "This man's horrific actions could have ended a 32-year-old woman's life and left three children without a mother.

"I welcome the fact that he is now behind bars. The perpetrator poured accelerant over the victim's sofa and set it alight.

"When the victim tried to run to a window to raise the alarm, she was pulled back. The victim suffered injuries due to smoke inhalation and was transferred to hospital where she remained for almost two weeks.

"This was an extremely traumatic incident which will have a long-lasting impact on the victim who thought she was going to die.

"One year on, the victim continues to suffer flashbacks of the incident and from multiple health problems caused by the smoke inhalation."

O'Hanlon was released in July 2020 but soon back behind bars again after he headbutted a woman in Gilford as she returned home from a shop.

O'Hanlon pleaded guilty to common assault, assault on police, resisting police and criminal damage at Craigavon Magistrates Court.

steven.moore@sundayworld.com


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