A 26-YEAR-OLD is still being held by police on suspicion of the murder of his father and the attempted murder of his mother in Ballymena.
The victim who was named locally on Tuesday as 64-year-old John Lamont, was found with his injured wife Elizabeth, 59 in the Carnvale area of the town, in the early hours of the morning.
Mr Lamont was stabbed to death, while his wife Liz was taken to Antrim Area Hospital with serious stab wounds.
It is understood the couple’s son Greg Lamont has been arrested over the stabbings, which have shocked the quiet neighbourhood.
Ballymena councillor James McClean said he had spoken to the victim on Monday evening just hours before his death.
“I live just around the corner from where John lived and I couldn’t believe the news when I heard it this morning,” said the Ulster Unionist councillor.
“I met him yesterday [Monday] and he was in good form – everything seemed fine.
“We were talking for a while about football. He was a dedicated Ballymena United fan and he would have been at nearly all of the home games.
“John was a really nice man; a real gentleman. You would always have seen him out walking with dogs. I didn’t know his wife but they seemed to be a very decent couple who were well respected here in the town.”
Councillor McClean added: “Whatever the circumstances, it is a terrible tragedy and my first thoughts are with John’s wife and the family. They are in all our prayers at this time.”
It is believed that a knife was recovered at the scene and taken away for forensic examination.
Retired civil engineer Herbie Park, 78, who lives just 100 yards away from the couple’s semi-detached house at Carnvale, off the Carniny Road on the edge of Ballymena, said: “We’ve had a couple of break-ins in this locality, nothing like this. But when this lands on your doorstep it is a terrible tragedy.”
The victim is understood to have retired in recent months, having worked at Aldergrove in Antrim.
Mr Lamont and his brothers were key figures in the local Milltown Accordion Band.
TUV councillor Roy Gillespie, who represents the Bannside area of Ballymena, said the death was a “devastating shock”.
“John and his brothers were involved with the accordion bands all of their lives and many, many people in the Cullybackey and Portglenone areas would know the family very well, so this news will be a devastating shock for the whole community here,” said Mr Gillespie.
“It is very sad, and very hard to take in that something like this could happen to such a decent man and his wife.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the Lamont family.”
UUP MLA Robin Swann said the fatality in Ballymena and the gun attack in Ballymoney on the same night had stunned his North Antrim constituency.
“Whilst details are still rather scarce, what is undeniable is that these are both very serious incidents which will shock the local communities in which they have taken place.
“I would like to extend my sympathies to the family of the man who died in Ballymena and appeal for anyone who can assist the police in either investigation to come forward immediately,” said the Ulster Unionist Assembly member.