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Young father killed after being "set upon" by group in late night attack

Five people have been arrested over the “vicious” killing of Christopher Meli in the early hours of Saturday morning.

POLICE IN THE North say a young man killed in Belfast in the early hours of Saturday morning was subjected to “a sustained and vicious” assault.

20-year-old Christopher Meli from Sliebh Dubh Lane in west Belfast was attacked and killed some time between midnight and 1am.

Five people in total have been arrested in connection with the investigation. Two 18-year-old men and a 16-year-old male youth were detained on Saturday and remain in custody.

Another two teenagers, aged 17 and 18, were arrested in connection with the murder yesterday afternoon.

All five suspects are still being interviewed.

“Christopher was the father of a two year old boy,” Detective Chief Inspector Richard Campbell, who is heading up the investigation, said in a statement tonight.

“He is survived by his mother, father and four younger brothers.

The sympathies and condolences of the Police Service are with the entire family circle at this very difficult time.

His death, Campbell said, “has caused devastation to his family and shocked the wider community”.

125 Christopher Meli Source: PSNI

Timeline

Detective Chief Inspector Campbell said investigators were starting to put together a timeline of what happened in the lead-up to the attack, based on witness statements.

“At this stage I believe that Christopher was one of a group of four people, when he was set upon by a number of individuals from a much larger group.

“There appears to have been an initial incident on the Stewartstown Road before the attack on Christopher in an area known locally as Doc’s Lane.

“Christopher became separated from his friends and he was fatally assaulted at the location where his body was found, in Doc’s Lane.

“Some of those people who were in that larger group may not have been involved in the attack on Christopher, nor may they have anticipated the outcome of the attack.

“Police are working to establish exactly what happened and who was involved.”

‘A matter of time’

He said it was “only a matter of time” before detectives identify everyone who was there, adding:

“I am appealing for those people to come forward now and co-operate with this investigation by telling police what they saw.

“Come to us before we come to you.

Anyone who was involved in the attack on Christopher should understand that they will be identified and it is in their interests to come forward now, voluntarily and with a solicitor if necessary, so that their role can be properly established.

“The response and support from the local community, from people of all ages, has been very positive.”

Anyone with information is being asked to call the PSNI on the non-emergency number ’101′.

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