Murder of Portadown couple in 80s in own home 'incomprehensible', say family

Marjorie and Michael Cawdery
Marjorie and Michael Cawdery

The family of a pensioner couple found murdered in their own home have said it was an incomprehensible killing.

Michael and Marjorie Cawdery, both 83, are understood to have been stabbed on Friday in what a senior detective described as a brutal attack.

Police at the scene on Friday

Police at the scene on Friday

A 40-year-old man who was arrested after the killings was found close to a vehicle stolen from the property in Portadown, Co Armagh, Police Service of Northern Ireland Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes said.

A statement from the victims' family said: "The awful and incomprehensible events of Friday 26 May have deprived our family of two wonderful people, Michael and Marjorie, who were our father, mother, brother, sister and grandparents."

Police and emergency services were called to the house in Upper Ramone Park at around 3.40pm on Friday after the couple were found dead by a relative.

Mr Geddes said a grey Kangoo van with the registration NJZ 6101, stolen from the couple's home, was found around 5pm in the nearby Edenderry area.

"Earlier in the day, at around 12.20pm, we had a report of a male breaking into a car in the Upper Ramone Park area," he said.

"We are appealing for anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area between 11am and 5pm yesterday to get in touch with police on the non-emergency number 101.

"We need to know the movements of this car from the time it left Upper Ramone Park until it was recovered in Edenderry Gardens."

The detective said they were trying to establish the car's whereabouts between 3.30pm and 5pm as they probe whether it is linked to the killings.

The incident has left residents in the quiet residential street stunned.

A Neighbourhood Watch sign was visible yards from the house on Friday evening.

Several police officers guarded the scene as forensic officers conducted examinations.

DUP representative David Simpson said: "A family member was the first to find them and we can only begin to imagine the shock, heartbreak and pain this has caused.

"It is important the family receive time and space to grieve the loss of two parents in such tragic circumstances."

Ulster Unionist Doug Beattie said: "This is a very quiet area of Portadown which has been visited by an absolutely terrifying situation this afternoon.

"An elderly couple in their 80s have been murdered in their own home and my thoughts and prayers are with them, their family and their friends.

"I was on the scene shortly after the incident and the local community was visibly shocked."

Local SDLP councillor Declan McAlinden said the couple were the victim of a "heinous crime".

"The entire community is just in shock that someone could murder an elderly couple in their own home like this," he said.

"I would appeal to anyone with any information or who saw anything suspicious in the area to come forward to police as soon as possible."

Police cordons sealed off the house where the bodies were found and a large area of the street outside.

Shocked neighbours gathered along the street, trying to gather information about what had happened.