Car enthusiasts plan tribute to murder victim Aidan Mann

As car enthusiasts prepare to honour a Downpatrick stabbing victim on Sunday, a NI Policing Board member has called on the justice minister to consider “tougher sentencing” recommendations for knife crime.

By Mark Rainey
Friday, 7th January 2022, 1:42 pm
Tattoo artist Aidan Mann. Photo: Pacemaker Belfast
Tattoo artist Aidan Mann. Photo: Pacemaker Belfast

Tattoo artist Aidan Mann was attacked and killed at Church Street on Monday.

The 28-year-old, who was originally from Bangor in Co Down, had just left his flat when he was stabbed.

On Wednesday, 36-year-old Barry Donnelly from Church Street in Downpatrick appeared by videolink at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court charged with murder.

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He has also been charged with possessing offensive weapons, described in court as two large kitchen knives.

Friends of Mr Mann, who was also known as Zen Black, have raised almost £7,000 to pay for a funeral tribute through an online appeal.

The message attached to the at www.justgiving.com donations page describes Mr Mann as “one of the most interesting, caring and passionate humans about”.

It has also emerged that his friends connected to the Nutts Corner-based ‘Underground Diffing’ (car drifting) group will host a “memorial meet” this Sunday.

Describing Mr Mann as a “keen car enthusiast,” the UGD group said: “His close friends and family have asked us if we would hold a memorial meet at our yard in nuttscorner for this Sunday coming, the 9 January, starting at 2pm till 9.30pm”.

The Facebook message added: “We gladly will hold a memorial meet for Aidan as he was a keen fan of the Nuttscorner yard and a keen follower of our meets around the country. Aidan will be sadly missed by all who knew his presence and his cheeky wit and jokes.”

In a statement, SDLP policing board member Dolores Kelly said the murder had brought the issue of knife crime “back into focus”.

She said she has written to Justice Minister Naomi Long after the latest PSNI figures show that, between September 2020 and September 2021, there were 691 knife crime incident – including five homicides, 24 attempted murders and 51 threats to kill.

“We have seen in other parts of these islands how quickly knife crime can become a scourge and it’s something we can’t allow to become a regular occurrence in our towns and cities,” Mrs Kelly said.

“With that in mind, I have contacted Justice Minister Naomi Long in the wake of this week’s murder to express my concerns and to establish what plans she has, if any, to begin to tackle this issue and lower the number of knife crimes.”.

She added: “I think if we are truly going to get to grips with this issue then we need to look at introducing tougher sentences to send a message that knife crime simply won’t be tolerated. We must use every tool at our disposal to prevent incidents like this in future”.

In a Facebook message, the Sailors & Scoundrels tattoo studio in Newtownards thanked everyone who donated to the online funeral appeal, and added: “He may have been horribly taken from this world but at least he will get the celebration of his life he truly deserved. It’s wonderful to see so many people come together to support him.”

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