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Sligo dad killed in holiday camp row was target of CAB and jailed for drug dealing

Michael McDonagh (53) who lived in London with his family was pronounced dead at the Camber Sands holiday park in Lydd Road near the East Sussex border last weekend

The late Michael McDonagh

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

A Sligo father-of-six killed after a row at a holiday camp in London was previously the target of a CAB investigation here in Ireland and the National Crime Agency in the UK.

Michael McDonagh (53), who lived in London with his family, was pronounced dead at the Camber Sands holiday park in Lydd Road near the East Sussex border last weekend following an altercation between a group of people.

He is believed to have got into the row after watching the opening match of the Premier League between Crystal Palace and Arsenal.

The incident that led to his death occurred on Friday night last. It has been reported that Michael was held down by a number of men and had stated he couldn’t breathe.

Police confirmed they arrested a seventh person in connection with his death.

Six people who were arrested on suspicion of murder by police have all now been released on conditional bail.

A Sussex Police spokesman revealed that those detained were all between the ages of 18 and 43 and all from the Kent/Sussex region.

As a result of further enquiries, a seventh person arrested on suspicion of murder was also released on conditional bail, they said.

In 2000, the Criminal Assets Bureau successfully seized McDonagh’s home near Ballintogher, Sligo after proving that it was bought from the proceeds of crime before the courts.

Soon after that Mr McDonagh left Ireland, he returned and he stayed in local hotels with his family.

He was also on the radar of the National Crime Agency in Britain and was arrested in Amsterdam, Holland in November 2010 and extradited back to the UK on foot of an international warrant for his arrest.

He was subsequently jailed for seven years for drug trafficking.

Meanwhile, the family of the Sligo dad said they are “walking away with broken hearts and unanswered questions”.

He was described as a man who was the “centre of our world and the life and soul of every party”.

“On Saturday morning we found out we lost our father,” a family member said. “Michael was a loving and supportive husband of 32 years and a father of six, taken from us whilst on a family holiday.

“His family meant everything to him. He came away to make memories with his wife and children and instead we are walking away with broken hearts and unanswered questions.

“It’s impossible to put into words how we all feel. Our dad was the centre of our world and the life and soul of every party.

“Not only did my dad make such a huge impact on our family but also to countless people who knew him throughout his life. He will be greatly missed.

“Michael was a kind-hearted man who died too young, leaving behind all those that loved him.”

Detective Chief Inspector Emma Vickers, of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, said: “Our investigation is at a very early stage, but I would like to reassure the public that this appears to be an isolated incident with no wider risk of harm.

“Officers are now working to establish the full circumstances while the victim’s next of kin are supported by specialist officers.”

Det Insp Vickers said a complex and fast moving investigation was underway to establish precisely what happened and identify those responsible.

She extended her condolences to Michael’s family many of whom live in Sligo town.

Mr McDonagh’s death sparked an outpouring of grief, with friends and family taking to social media to pay tribute.

One family member posted: “Our hearts are broken. You will forever be in our hearts - gone but not forgotten.

“My heart goes out to his lovely wife and children. Please God watch over them.”

Another wrote: “Uncle Michael, you didn’t deserve this. How can the world be so cruel. You will never be forgotten.”

Parkdean, which runs the resort, told people at the site a “serious incident” had taken place and a “live police investigation” was active.

The message, which was sent out to customers, said: “We would like to make you aware that last night a serious incident occurred within our complex area.

“As this is a live police investigation our team is doing everything they can to assist their enquiries. Please be aware they cannot comment on this incident.”

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