Murder investigation launched as soldier found dead at barracks is named

Police arrest 23-year-old serving soldier on suspicion of murder of Corporal Geoffrey McNeill, 32, of the Royal Irish Regiment

A murder investigation was launched on Monday after an experienced and dedicated soldier was found dead at a British army barracks.

Police have arrested a 23-year-old man, a serving soldier, on suspicion of the murder of Corporal Geoffrey McNeill, 32, a member of the 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment, part of the UK’s rapid response air assault brigade.

The arrested soldier, who was also based at Clive Barracks in Tern Hill, Shropshire, was being questioned by detectives at Shrewsbury police station.

West Mercia police said a murder investigation was launched after McNeill was found dead in a building at the barracks at around 9am on Saturday.

Detective Inspector Steve Tonks said: “We have made an arrest in connection with the death.

The investigation is in its early stages and extensive inquiries are continuing.

“A postmortem conducted by a Home Office pathologist was held yesterday and further examinations and tests are being carried out to help establish the cause of death.”

One incident that is being investigated by detectives is a fight that is said to have taken place in the centre of the market town of Market Drayton on Friday night.

Police have asked businesses in the town to provide CCTV footage and have spoken to people who were in the town at the time.

A member of the staff at the Crown Inn in the centre of the town said: “I was working when it all kicked off, I’m not sure what it was about. I’ve been told not to say anything else than that.”

There has been no suggestion that firearms were involved in the death.

Tern Hill, where 1st Battalion has been based since 2007, is three miles from Market Drayton.

Tonks made an appeal to the public for further information and urged anyone who could assist the inquiry to contact Shrewsbury CID. Police said the coroner for Shropshire had been informed.

One of McNeill’s three brothers, Jason McNeill, speaking on behalf of the family, said he was a dedicated soldier.

He said: “Geoff was born in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland and dedicated his life to the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment. He served his country with the highest degree of honour and dedication.

“He was a much loved son, brother, uncle and friend and touched the lives of all who had the pleasure of meeting him. The family would like to give thanks for the continued support of the army, police and all who knew and loved Geoff. Our love for him remains as strong as ever.”

He concluded by saying: “Rest in peace soldier. Faugh-a-Ballagh. [a battle cry meaning clear the way].

Recently soldiers from Tern Hill were mobilised to help flood victims in Worcestershire, and met David Cameron when he visited Upton-upon-Severn last month.

Last year an inquest jury ruled that another member of the Tern Hill-based regiment, Ranger Michael Maguire, 21, was unlawfully killed when he was shot dead at a training range in Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales.

Coincidentally, police are also investigating the …read more    

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