Prebyterian minister dies after beating in February


A PRESBYTERIAN minister has become the first person to die as a result of a socalled "punishment beating" in Northern Ireland.

The RUC has begun a murder inquiry following the death yesterday of the Rev David Templeton (42) from Newtownabbey, Co Antrim.

According to the RUC, he died as a direct consequence of injuries he received in a "paramilitary style assault" on February 7th when a number of men, armed with nail embedded cudgels, broke into his home and beat him severely. He sustained broken legs, a suspected broken skull and other injuries in the assault, and was in intensive care in hospital, according to a spokesman for the Presbyterian church. However he seemed to be recuperating and had been discharged from hospital when he died suddenly. A post mortem was carried out which led to the RUC deciding to begin the murder investigation.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Mr Templeton had resigned as minister to the Presbyterian congregation in Greyabbey, Co Down, following an incident in August 1995 in which he was fined by Custom officers for importing an illegal video.

He was stopped by Customs officers coming off a flight from Amsterdam, the video was seized and he received an on the spot fine. The police were not involved. Shortly afterwards the Sunday Life newspaper published an article referring to him as a "gay porn cleric", and he resigned as minister of his congregation.

However, he retained his status as a minister of the Presbyterian church, described as a "minister without charge" and, according to the church spokesman, the way was open to him applying to a congregation some time in the future.

According to the church spokesman, neither the RUC nor anyone else had ever made any complaints about his behaviour.

Because he no longer had a congregation, he did not draw a salary and did not live in a manse.

He was given a house by the Housing Executive in the loyalist Ballyduff area of Newtownabbey. It was there he received the attack which led to his death.

Mr Templeton was the longest surviving kidney transplant patient in Northern Ireland. In 1976 he suffered acute kidney failure, and was given five weeks to live. He received a kidney from his mother and had lived a healthy life since.

He worked as a civil servant before deciding to enter the Presbyterian ministry. He obtained honours BAs from the Open University and Ulster Polytechnic and two Masters degrees in Divinity and Theology from Princeton University and Queen's University. He was ordained in 1986 and was assistant minister in north Belfast for a year before being installed as minister in Greyabbey.