Farmhouse shooting cause is still unclear

Forensic experts at the murder-suicide house on the Feystown Road Glenarm. INLT 38-017-PSB
Forensic experts at the murder-suicide house on the Feystown Road Glenarm. INLT 38-017-PSB

Questions are still be asked in Glenarm as to the motive behind the double shooting of two men at a farmhouse near the village.

Police have said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths of dairy farmer Arthur Gibson, 61, and his 37-year-old farm-hand Michael Murphy, whose bodies were discovered at Mr Gibson’s Feystown Road farmhouse on the evening of Friday, September 13.

It is not yet known how long the men had been dead prior to being found. Post-mortem examinations on the men confirmed that they both died as a result of shotgun wounds.

Detectives have said they are following a definite line of enquiry and while speculation as to the motive of the shooting has been rife in the Press, the reality is that the mens’ families may never fully know the truth behind the tragedy.

Larne councillor and former mayor, Gerardine Mulvenna, told the Times that the shootings had sent shockwaves through the rural community.

“This is an absolute tragedy and my thoughts and prayers are with the families at this terrible time,” she said.

Cllr Mulvenna added that Mr Murphy – originally from Larne’s Seacourt estate - had worked as a labourer on the Gibson farm for over 10 years and said the two men had been “close friends”.

“I know there has been a lot of speculation about what exactly took place that day, but sadly we may never know the full story,” said Cllr Mulvenna.

In the wake of the tragedy, the Gibson farm was being looked after by neighbours, who helped to milk the herd.

Mr Gibson, a bachelor who wore a prosthetic hand following an accident a number of years ago, was described as a “very good farmer, very intelligent, a shrewd businessman and an absolute gentleman” by William Cross of Ulster Farmers’ Union Larne branch.

Mr Cross said the UFU was also providing Mr Gibson’s family with support to look after the herd of about 120 cows.

He added: “I knew Arthur for over 30 years. He was highly respected in the community and his neighbours were very fond of him.”

Mr Murphy’s remains left his Altmore Walk home on the morning of Tuesday, September 17 to the Church of the Immaculate Conception in the village for Requiem Mass.He was buried in Glenarm New Cemetery.

Meanwhile, Mr Gibson’s funeral took place on Wednesday, September 18 at the same church, followed by interment at Feystown Cemetery.