Murdered Portadown couple ‘utterly devoted to one another’

Undated handout photos issued by the PSNI of Marjorie Cawdery (left) and Michael Cawdery, both 83, who were found murdered in their own home in Portadown, Co Armagh, on Friday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday May 27, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Couple. Photo credit should read: PSNI/PA Wire

NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Undated handout photos issued by the PSNI of Marjorie Cawdery (left) and Michael Cawdery, both 83, who were found murdered in their own home in Portadown, Co Armagh, on Friday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday May 27, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Couple. Photo credit should read: PSNI/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

A Portadown couple who were brutally stabbed to death in their own home were “utterly devoted to one another”, a minister has said.

The bodies of the pensioners Michael and Marjorie Cawdery- both aged 83 - were discovered on Friday afternoon when their daughter and son-in-law came to visit them in their home in a quiet, leafy cul-de-sac at Upper Ramone Park.

Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc

Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc

Detectives are still working to establish a motive for the savage crime, which has left the Portadown community reeling.

Yesterday, detectives in the PSNI’s serious crime branch secured more time to detain and question a man suspected of carrying out the double murder.

It is understood the 40-year-old was arrested after he crashed the Cawdery’s stolen Renault Kangoo van near their home.

Speaking to the News Letter yesterday, Rev Gary Galway of Drumcree Church said the elderly couple had “lived for each other and their family”.

Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc

Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc

He added: “Michael and Marjorie would have attended our church and they were such a lovely couple.

“Michael was a real gentleman and very well-spoken. Marjorie was a quiet but very pleasant lady. They were just right for each other.

“They kept themselves to themselves, which makes what happened to them all the more shocking and difficult to comprehend.

“They were a very close knit family and their daughter is core member of our church. The congregation offered prayers this morning for the family and I know the community will do whatever they can to support them after this dreadful incident.”

Mr Cawdery was a retired veterinary researcher, and had a long and distinguished career in his profession.

Educated in Nairobi, at Portora Royal School and at Trinity College Dublin, Mr Cawdrey - along with his wife - had been directors of veterinary firm Cawel Ltd, which was dissolved in 2011.

He published many well-regarded research articles in a wide range of academic journals in his field.

In a statement the Cawdery family said: “The awful and incomprehensible events of Friday, May 26 have deprived our family of two wonderful people Michael and Marjorie who were our father, mother, brother, sister and grandparents.

“We thank the police for their prompt response and professional actions. We also thank everyone who has expressed sympathy in whatever way and offered help.

“Finally, we ask for respect and privacy in the coming days as the family try to come to terms with their loss.

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie, who rushed to the murder scene on Friday, told the News Letter: “I spoke to the victim’s son-in-law at the scene. He was clearly devastated and visibly shocked. The family keep themselves to themselves and this is a quiet neighbourhood, which makes what happened here all the more shocking.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family as they seek to come to terms with what has happened.”

DUP Upper Bann Westminster candidate David Simpson said: “This is a horrific scene and one that has shocked the entire Portadown and wider community.

“The couple tragically lost their lives in their own home. A family member was the first to find them and we can only begin to imagine the shock, heartbreak and pain this has caused.

“I am liaising with the PSNI and would encourage anyone with information to come forward. It is important the family receive time and space to grieve the loss of two parents in such tragic circumstances.”

Police and emergency services were called to the pensioners’ house at around 3.40pm on Friday after the couple’s bodies were discovered.

Earlier in the day, at around 12.20pm, police had received a report of a man breaking into a car in the Upper Ramone Park area.

Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes said: “We are appealing for anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area between 11am and 5pm on Friday to get in touch with police on the non-emergency number 101.”

Police remain in the area and will have extra patrols in the Portadown area.