Friday, 3 Feb 2023

Body found in ditch believed to be missing boy, 15

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Matthew McCallan, 15, had been missing from the Dungannon area since the early hours of Sunday. The remains were found in a ditch in the Fintona area shortly before noon on Monday – two miles from an event Matthew went to that night. Tributes have poured in for the boy, who was described as “a young man full of potential, ready and eager to start out on his journey of life and work”.

Detective Inspector Michael Winters of the Police Service of Northern Ireland said: “Our thoughts are very much with Matthew’s devastated family who received this tragic news today.

“A number of specially trained officers are providing support to them at this time.

“Detectives will continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death, which is currently being treated as unexplained.

“Police received a report of a missing person shortly after 3.30am on Sunday December 4 when Matthew did not arrive home after attending an event in Fintona on Saturday night.

“Sadly, a body, which we believe to be Matthew, was discovered in a ditch in the laneway of a property approximately two miles away from the social event today, Monday December 5, at 11.45am.

“We are keeping an open mind and would appeal for anyone with information to come forward.

“Matthew was last seen at approximately 1.20am in the Ecclesville Centre, Fintona, and we are keen to establish his movements after this time.

“I would appeal to anyone who saw the teenager or anyone who has CCTV or dashcam footage to contact police on 101, quoting reference number 319 of 04/12/22.”

Tributes were paid to Matthew on Monday evening.

“We are so saddened by the tragic and untimely passing of our Year 12 student, Matthew McCallan,” St Patrick’s College said on Facebook.

“Today brought the worst possible outcome for the parents, family, friends and our school community – to have lost Matthew so tragically, we are just devastated.

“Matthew was a quiet boy, not overly confident – a young man still growing into his skin.

“He was a young person who loved the practicalities of learning – opting to study construction, engineering and road traffic studies.

“He enjoyed nothing better than being in the workshop getting the chance to develop his skills. For Christmas his father had only just bought him a toolbox – he would have so loved that.

“We have not just lost a member of our school community – the world has lost a young man full of potential, ready and eager to start out on his journey of life and work.

“Our thoughts are with Matthew’s mummy Frances and his daddy Peter, he was the apple of their eye. They need our prayers now to face the days ahead.”

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family of young Matthew McCallan this evening.

“Heart breaking and unimaginable news for his mummy, daddy and wider family and friends circle. Sending you all our love.”

“This is terrible news. My thoughts are with Matthews family and friends at this very difficult time,” UUP leader Doug Beattie said.

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