Northern Ireland: Newtownabbey murders: Stacey Knell’s family say huge void has been left

The family of Newtownabbey murder victim Stacey Knell have said “a huge void” has been left in their lives.

Ms Knell and Karen McClean were found dead at separate addresses in Newtownabbey on Friday night.

Police believe their killer was Ken Flanagan, who took his own life after murdering his 50-year-old mother, Ms McClean, and his 30-year-old girlfriend, Ms Knell.

“The loss of Stacey has caused unimaginable pain,” the family said.

The issued a tribute and an appeal for privacy through Ulster Unionist councillor Robert Foster.

“Our priority now is to care for Stacey’s daughter as we all attempt to come to terms with the dreadful events of last Friday,” they said.

The Police Ombudsman is assessing information on the double murder to determine if the case requires investigation by the watchdog.

Just hours before the two women were killed, the police received a report of safety concerns about Ken Flanagan.

Sam Lillie, the father of Ms Knell’s child, said he contacted both the police and social services on Friday to say he was worried about his child being in Mr Flanagan’s company.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman confirmed it was examining details about the case, which were given to its office by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

“We have not received a complaint, but police have formally notified us about the circumstances surrounding the murders and provided us with relevant information,” the watchdog’s spokesman said.

“We are now assessing this information to determine whether there are any matters which require investigation by this office.”

Mr Lillie has spoken to newspapers and BBC News NI about his attempts to alert the authorities in the hours leading up to the murders.

He saw Ken Flanagan at his daughter’s grandmothers’ house on 17 March, which he said “raised a lot of alarm bells” because of the ex-prisoner’s previous record.

After considering the issue for two days, Mr Lillie said he woke up on Friday morning with a “really bad feeling something bad was going to happen” and decided to formally report his concerns.

He said he first contacted social services, who noted his concerns and then advised him to also contact the police.

Mr Lillie said he was aware that police could not take action unless a crime had been committed.

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