‘Dodgy drugs’ fears as 37-year-old twins discovered lying side by side at house party

It is understood two other males – also found in the property when paramedics arrived – were rushed to hospital

Claire O’Neill was a mum of three, while brother Stevie, right, was a father of one

Claire O'Neill

Stevie O'Neill

Officers at the scene at Annadale Crescent yesterday

Hugh JordanSunday World

A twin brother and sister were found dead in a house yesterday amid fears they may have been killed by dodgy drugs.

Stevie and Claire O’Neill (37) died side by side in a house in south Belfast.

It is understood two other males – also found in the property when paramedics arrived – were rushed to hospital.

Police said they were “investigating the circumstances surrounding the sudden deaths of two people” and that a man in his forties had been arrested.

It is believed one of the men who was taken to hospital is a serving member of the British armed forces.

Officers at the scene at Annadale Crescent yesterday

At one stage two fire engines, three ambulances and five police cars attended the scene in Annadale Crescent in what turned out to be a major incident.

Police could not confirm any drugs link to the deaths but one relative of the twins told the Sunday World: “This is an epidemic and what happened here yesterday is truly heartbreaking.”

And she also said she was unable to reveal any information regarding the condition of the males who were taken to hospital.

“As a family, we’re not prepared to say anything about that,” she added.

Mother-of-three Claire Michelle O’Neill was a well-known figure in the Annadale Crescent area, where she had lived with her five-year-old son for some time.

It is believed her brother Stevie, a father of one and from the Ormeau Road area, had called to visit his twin sister on Friday evening.

Police have yet to confirm the cause of death, but local people who knew the O’Neill twins well are convinced they died as a result of a drugs overdose.

“Claire had been doing well. She had gone through a bad patch with drugs. But she was attending courses and was getting her life back on track — and now this,” said a distraught neighbour.

She added: “Four children have been left without a parent as a result of this. It is really heartbreaking.”

Stevie O'Neill

A fitness fanatic, Stevie O’Neill had recently signed up for a 56-mile challenge to raise money for cancer research.

“The twins were the life and soul of the entire O’Neill family. And Stevie was raising money for cancer,” a family member told us.

“Everyone loved the twins and we all thought the world of them. They were so popular.”

It was in Claire’s smart terraced house near the River Lagan Embankment where the double tragedy unfolded in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Locals say police had called to Claire O’Neill’s home earlier on Friday evening, where it appeared a party was under way, but they left a short time later.

However, PSNI officers flooded back into the area around 2.45am yesterday soon after the twins’ lifeless bodies were discovered.

At one stage up to nine police rapid response and emergency services vehicles were crammed into the narrow street.

And soon afterwards two men were rushed to hospital.

Annadale Cresent was once a staunchly loyalist area, but in recent years it has become much more mixed.

Claire O'Neill

As word spread in the early hours of yesterday morning, neighbours and friends huddled in groups in the street.

Many of them spoke in hushed tones as they struggled to take in the full extent of the shocking news.

Later yesterday morning, the close-knit Annadale community was stunned as word of the deaths of the popular mum and her twin sibling quickly spread like wildfire.

And an eerie hush fell over the street as the twins’ remains were removed from the house by undertakers.

A grey private ambulance took the two bodies to the mortuary shortly after 9am.

One resident who knew the deceased pair well commented: “It’s just awful. Claire and Stevie came into the world together and now in death they leave it together. You never saw one without the other. They were always very close.”

A family relative of the deceased twins who contacted the Sunday World yesterday said “Never mind Covid, this is an epidemic. It’s a real tragedy and it will take us a long time to get over it.”

A police spokesperson said late yesterday: “Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the sudden deaths of two people at a house in the Annadale Crescent area of Belfast this morning, Saturday 4th February.

“One man in his 40s has been arrested in relation to the investigation, and remains in police custody at this time.

“There are no further details at this time.”

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