TRIBUTES have been paid to a Lisburn man who has been shot dead in a brutal gun attack in South Africa.
Richard Smyth, 56, who owned the popular Corner House Pub in Johannesburg, was killed alongside his 21-year-old manager Christopher Patton, after three men posing as customers shot the pair several times at close range on Wednesday, April 15.
Richard emigrated to South Africa, where his brother Tom has lived since 1972, with his young family in 1982 to escape the Troubles in Northern Ireland. He was killed at around 6pm in the busy pub/restaurant in Olivedale, which he has owned for seven years. He had bought the ailing public house and restaurant, which was close to the area of Johannesburg
Lisburn man shot dead in South Africa where he lived, seven years ago and had built it into a thriving and vibrant business.
He leaves behind brothers John (Junior), Tom and Geoff and sisters Linda and Audrey.
Relatives have now flown to South Africa from Lisburn to be with his family and to help organise his funeral, as Johannesburg police continue to search for his killers.
Speaking about the attack Police Superintendent Eugene Opperman said: "The attackers were sitting at the pub for a while and posed as customers before taking out the gun or guns and firing at the deceased. "We are still investigating possible leads, and a motive behind the shooting is not yet known." Werner Vermaak of ER24, the South African Emergency Services, said paramedics were called out and arrived to find patrons of the club in an hysterical state.
He said that the 21-year-old manager, who had been employed for just three days, was already dead, whilst after attempts to resuscitate Richard, he was declared dead at the scene.
Those within the local Pigeon Fancying fraternity have paid tribute to the popular local man, recalling "fond memories" from the time Richard owned a well known shop in Castle Street Arcade selling Tropical and Fresh Water fish.
The shop became a focal point and meeting place for a variety of animal lovers to discuss their hobbies, whether they were a Pigeon Fancier, cage bird enthusiast or someone just calling in for a chat about their goldfish. They added that Richard is well remembered within Lisburn and that many in the city have already phoned, called in person or sent cards of condolence upon hearing of the shocking news of his death.
A friend of the family said: "Richard will be sadly missed by both his family and the vast circle of people who considered Richard their friend. Once again our sincere and deepest sympathies to the complete family circle at this difficult time."
Richard's brother Junior has also asked that his thanks and appreciation be expressed to the many members of the public who have shown their sympathy to the Smyth family circle in so many kind and thoughtful ways over the last few days.