Murder of two women in Newtownabbey an ‘absolute tragedy’, says Long

It is understood a young man stabbed his mother and girlfriend on Friday night

The scene at a house  at  Derrycoole Way, Newtownabbey, after police began  a murder investigation after three bodies were found at separate properties. Photograph: PA

The scene at a house at Derrycoole Way, Newtownabbey, after police began a murder investigation after three bodies were found at separate properties. Photograph: PA


Northern Ireland’s Minister for Justice has described the murder of two women on Friday night was an “absolute tragedy” and said she plans to bring proposals before the Northern Executive to protect women and girls from violence.

Police in Belfast are investigating the deaths of two women and a man in an apparent murder-suicide in Newtownabbey.

It was reported on Sunday that hours before the killings, police received a warning about the suspected murderer, who has been named locally as Ken Flanagan.

Police suspect Mr Flanagan, who was known to have drug addiction problems, stabbed to death his mother and his girlfriend at separate locations and then killed himself.

His mother was named locally as Karen ‘Kaz’ McClean and his girlfriend as Stacey Knell.

The alarm was raised shortly before 11 pm on Friday when police received a report of a stabbing at a house in the Derrycool Way area.

When officers and an ambulance crew arrived they found a woman who was pronounced dead at the scene, explained Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell.

“As officers carried out further enquiries, they attended a residential property in the Glenville Road area,” he said.

“An unconscious male was located in the property. Despite the provision of first aid, the male was pronounced dead. On searching the property, another deceased female was located,” added Det Chief Insp Caldwell.

Police suspect the man murdered his mother and his girlfriend. “While we have launched a murder investigation, we are not looking for anyone else in connection with these incidents which we believe are connected,” said the officer.

The Sunday World reported that earlier on Friday a man who from a previous relationship had a child with Ms Knell contacted social services because he was worried about Mr Flanagan and anxious for his daughter

He said social services told him they couldn’t do anything at such short notice and advised him to go to the PSNI. He said he then contacted Musgrave police station. He said police told him that they could not “advise Stacey on who she has a relationship with”.

“I said I just wanted them to look into the matter and look into Ken and that fact that he was around my daughter, which was my main concern,” he told the newspaper.

The police confirmed to The Irish Times that on Friday afternoon they received a report “of concern for the safety of a child”.

“Following review, there was no evidence of immediate concern for the child’s safety and the caller was provided with advice in respect of the matter,” said PSNI North Area commander, Chief Superintendent Davy Beck.

Offering sympathy to the bereaved politicians such as North Belfast DUP Assembly member Paula Bradley, Sinn Féin North Belfast MP John Finucane and SDLP deputy mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey council Noreen McClelland said the killings highlighted the need for a strategy to protect women against such violence.

Ms Long said while she could not comment specifically on the murders and suicide, it was “hugely important” to focus on issues surrounding domestic violence.

Ms Long said she planned to present a paper to the Northern Ireland Executive in the coming days that would introduce a strategy to protect women and girls from violence.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that does not have a specific strategy to to protect women and girls.

“I’m also bringing forward a Miscellaneous Provisions Bill which will be at the Assembly in May and that will deal with a wide range of issues which Sir John Gillen identified in his review of serious sexual offences,” she told the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme.

“We need to see progress made, for example in education in terms of relationship and sex education, in terms of dispelling rape myths, in terms of dealing with attitude around victim blaming,” she said.

“We need to deal with things like street harassment, which is hard to prosecute as crimes but nevertheless has a huge impact on women’s lives,” added Ms Long.