Police granted more time to question soldier suspect in RIR Corporal’s murder

Corporal Geoffrey McNeill
Corporal Geoffrey McNeill

Police interviewing a soldier arrested on suspicion of murdering a Ballymoney-born colleague have been granted extra time for questioning.

Corporal Geoffrey McNeill, from Ballymoney, was found dead at his base in Shropshire on Saturday morning and a 23-year-old man was later arrested on suspicion of murder.

The 32-year-old victim, who was unmarried, was a member of the regiment’s 1st Battalion based at Clive Barracks in Tern Hill.

His body was discovered around 9am. The exact cause of death has not yet been established.

The arrested man – who is also a serving soldier based at Clive Barracks – is still being questioned after magistrates were granted an extension on Tuesday morning.

Police have until around 11am on Wednesday before the custody extension runs out.

Detective Inspector Steve Tonks, the senior investigating officer from West Mercia Police, renewed the appeal for information which might assist the police.

“We urge anyone who has any information which might be relevant to please contact Shrewsbury CID by calling 101 as a matter of urgency,” he said. “We have a team of officers actively involved in piecing together the circumstances which led to Corporal McNeill’s death.”

In a statement issued on behalf of the family on Monday, one of Cpl McNeill’s three brothers, Jason McNeill, said the soldier “served his country with the highest degree of honour and dedication”.

He said: “Geoff was born in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, and dedicated his life to the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment.

“He was a much-loved son, brother, uncle and friend and touched the lives of all who had the pleasure of meeting him.”

Mr McNeill added: “The family would like to give thanks for the continued support of the army, police and all who knew and loved Geoff. Our love for him remains as strong as ever. Rest in peace soldier. Faugh-a-Ballagh.”

DUP MLA Mervyn Storey also expressed his sympathies to the McNeill family.