by MARY MAGEE
Jim Heasley known as 'Sunshine'
Tributes which have been left in Manor Park for Jlm Heasley. US4410-251DW
RESIDENTS of Craig Gardens have spoken of their shock at the death of their 70-year-old neighbour who was attacked at Manor Park after he left the Pigeon Club almost three weeks ago.
Jim Heasley, known as 'Sunshine', died last Friday in hospital, almost two weeks after he was attacked as he walked home from the Pigeon Club in Longstone Street.
The attack occurred on Jim, who had lived at Craig Gardens for the past few years, sometime between 12.45 and lam in the early hours of Sunday morning October 17.
One neighbour, who has lived in the area for 14 years, said she was appalled at the attack.
"He was just a harmless soul who did no-one any harm," she said. "I know he often went to the Pigeon Club for a wee drink but that was it. He did not deserve that.
"His brother and his sister-in-law did a lot to the house when he moved in. They must be distraught, It is just terrible that he did not have more time in the house. It is very sad. He was such a nice person."
She said Jim had worked at Thiepval Barracks and his family were originally from Tonagh.
"I just cannot for the life of me know why this could have happened" she said.
"He never bothered anyone. He was just a quiet soul."
Another neighbour described Mr Heasley as 'inoffensive' man who kept himself to himself.
"I cannot get over this," she said. "I would have spoken to him when I saw him. I cannot believe that he is gone."
Another neighbour said she had only found out about the attack when
police called at her door.
I could not believe it," she said. "He was so quiet."
Another neighbour said she is now scared to go out. "You hear of these things happening in other places, but not to your own neighbour, not to Jim," she said.
Councillor Ronnie Crawford, who has known the Heasley family for many years, said he was stunned at what had happened.
"The people of Lisburn are shocked and saddened by the untimely death of Jim Heasley and the family will have the sympathy of the entire community," he said.
"The Heasley family are former neighbours of mine and are highly respected throughout the community. I hope the police will receive every support from the general public in investigating this. "
Police are treating death as murder
THE police say they are now investigating the death of Manor Park man Jim Heasley, who was attacked on his way home from the Pigeon Club three weeks ago, as murder.
70-year-old Mr Heasley was taken to hospital in a critical condition after being found lying near his home in the early hours of October 17 and passed away on Friday at Belfast City Hospital.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway, said: "Following Jim death in hospital, this investigation has now become a murder inquiry.
"This was an unprovoked attack on a defenceless 70-year-old man who was on his way home after a night out with his friends." Police say Mr Heasley was well-known in the community. They have appealed for anyone who may have seen him on the night of the fatal attack.
"Jim left the Pigeon Club in Longstone Street, and we know he was attacked in Manor Park," DCI Galloway continued.
"We want to speak to anyone who saw any movement in those areas between 12.45am and 1am.
"We particularly want to speak to a blonde woman and a man seen walking into Manor Park sometime shortly after 1am. You may be able to help us with this enquiry and we would like to speak to you as witnesses."
Alliance Lisburn South representative Stephen Martin, who knew the pensioner, said he was deeply saddened to hear of his death.
Mr Martin said: "Mr Heasley was a well-known and respected member of our community, having as he did strong ties to Lagan Valley Pigeon Club. The people of Longstone and Manor Park will miss his familiar face and are rightly appalled that such a terrible tragedy could happen on our doorsteps- No-one should ever have to go through what Jim Heasley's family have endured over the last number of weeks following the attack and I trust that anyone with information on what happened to Jim will come forward and assist the police in bringing a small measure of comfort to his friends and family. My deepest sympathies are with them now and going forward."
SDLP Lisburn representative Aisling Twomey said: "The community are shocked and saddened at this news.
"I appeal for anyone who may have any information, no matter how minor it may seem, about the attack to please pass it onto the police as a matter of urgency."
A man aged 47, has appeared in court charged with grievous bodily harm in connection with the incident.