'Incredible actor' | 

Tributes flood in as reformed criminal and Love/Hate actor Stephen Clinch dies suddenly

“He was a true character on and off the set, may he rest in peace.”

Eugene Masterson

Tributes have been paid to Love/Hate actor Stephen Clinch after his unexpected death.

The actor, who played Noely in the hit TV series, was found dead today in Dublin.

Stephen became one of the breakout stars of RTE's crime drama with his gritty portrayal of criminal, Noely, who was involved in a feud with drug dealer Fran.

Clinch (52), who in real life served time recently for an armed robbery, also starred in TV3 crime series Darklands as Bernard.

“You made mistakes but you came through them,” said Darklands director Mark O’Connor wrote today.

“An incredible actor, the only one to star in all my films and Darklands. One of the funniest people you could ever meet. Never asked for nothing and gave everything.

"Today has lost one of its realest legends. RIP my pal Clinchy.”

Fellow actor Robbie Breen, who also starred alongside him in Darklands, told the Sunday World: “He was a true character on and off the set, may he rest in peace.”

Stephen Clinch playing Noely in Love/Hate

Another acting industry source confirmed he had been speaking to one of father-of-three Clinch’s children today and “they’re all devastated”.

Clinch’s funeral will be held at Our Lady Immaculate church in Darndale on Saturday morning, with cremation afterwards at Dardistown cemetery.

The actor, from Millbrooke Grove, Kilbarrack was released from jail in 2019 after he was jailed in 2016 for holding a loaded semi-automatic pistol to the head of a security worker and trying to rob €50,000 in Dublin.

The actor from Kilbarrack, north Dublin, pleaded guilty to possession of a fireman with intent to commit robbery and to robbery at The Gate Hotel on Parnell Street on May 11, 2015.

He was handed a four-and-a-half-year sentence for his part in the robbery.

He later said his return to crime after a 14 year break was the “stupidest thing” he ever did.

“I was quite content in my life, I was getting a good bit of work. I was getting a good bit of film work, I was doing all good things, everything was great for me and then I just drifted back into that madness, you know?,” he said in an interview shortly after his release.

“Maybe the excitement of doing stuff like that? I don’t’ know. I was just a stupid bastard, just a silly, silly, silly bastard.”

He confirmed he had been on methadone at the time of the raid, but was off it when he was freed from jail.

Clinch was caught on CCTV with another man trying to rob the Gate Hotel.

The Circuit Criminal court heard that Clinch had a history of heroin addiction and previous convictions of 17 robberies and 13 burglary offences. Those offences dated up to 2004.

The court also heard Clinch told officers he had been clean from heroin for nine years and that he didn’t know the gun was loaded and didn’t want to commit the robbery.

Stephen Clinch

Clinch said he had owed €8,000 as a result of the discovery of a consignment of drugs he had been given to hide.

Garda Niall McCormack told the court the gun used in the raid had been altered to discharge live ammunition and was in fair condition.

He said 9mm rounds however were not suitable for the gun.

A number of celebrities vouched for the actor in court.

Director and writer Mark O’Connor had made four films with Clinch and they had become good friends.

He said he was brilliant to work with and never looked for money for the films they made.

Love/Hate writer Stuart Carolan has testified on his behalf.

Singer Damien Dempsey said he had known Clinch all his life and that he had guided local people into music and acting and also warned them against the horrors of addiction.

Clinch’s other flicks included Cardboard Gangsters, The legend of Harry and Ambrose and King of the travellers, while he also starred in a reality TV show, Rebirth: the story of Stephen Clinch, which gave an insight into his troubled past having spent almost half his life in jail.

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