Mother’s agony at drowning death

James Kelly from the Shankill Road area of Belfast, who died on Wednesday while on holiday in Bulgaria.
James Kelly from the Shankill Road area of Belfast, who died on Wednesday while on holiday in Bulgaria.

The mother of Shankill Road man James Kelly, who drowned on holiday in Bulgaria, told of “how happy we was” just hours before his death.

Lily Kelly – whose brother Bobby Moffett was murdered by the UVF in 2010 – yesterday spoke to the News Letter from the Sunny Beach resort in Bulgaria.

Mrs Kelly said she travelled over “to identify my son’s body and bring him home”.

Speaking against the background noise of happy holiday-makers, Mrs Kelly said: “I just can’t take it in. It is just unbelievable.

“I want to take him home, but because it is the weekend now everything is closed, even the undertakers.

“And there is so much paperwork out here. I am not going to be able to do anything until tomorrow [Monday].

“He was 25 and had his whole life in front of him.

“They are all sitting here around me on holiday and I am crying, but I can’t do anything.

“I just feel so helpless.”

Mr Kelly, who was on holiday with his girlfriend Courtney Holmes, is understood to have died after alighting from a pedalo.

She said the cause of death recorded after autopsy for her son is ‘asphyxiation by drowning’, but she queries if the epilepsy her son suffered after sustaining “bad beatings from the UVF” could be to blame.

“His girlfriend tried to jump in and it wasn’t even that deep,” said Mrs Kelly. “He was on the phone to me that day and said mummy this is great, this is one of the best holidays I have been on. I am really enjoying myself.”

The couple have a three-year-old daughter called Kierslin, “a name they made up themselves”.

“James’ daughter doesn’t know yet,” said Mrs Kelly. “She doted on him, just loved him. She was a daddy’s girl and he doted on her too. She is a wee dote, a wee doll and every inch of her da.”

Mrs Kelly said she and her family are still grieving the death of their mother.

“My mummy [Susan Moffett] died last year, she isn’t even a year dead,” she said. “We haven’t had a chance to get over that, or Bobby, and now this.

“My windows are still broken after the latest attack on my house. And they are hopefully being repaired in the morning for the body coming home.

“My daughter is in a terrible state too because her and James were very close. She can’t cope with it either.”

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “We can confirm the death of a British national in Bulgaria on June 25.

“We are providing consular assistance to the family.”