Dead man found by Derry schoolkids identified

The body found by schoolchildren at Magilligan was that on John McIlwaine from Belfast.
The body found by schoolchildren at Magilligan was that on John McIlwaine from Belfast.

The man whose body was discovered by a group of Derry schoolchildren earlier this week has been identified as that of missing Belfast native John Ilwaine.

The 54-year-old’s body was found on the beach at Magilligan Point by Primary 7 pupils from the Model Primary School on Tuesday morning.

Mr McIlwaine was last seen on the Strand Road, Portstewart on Wednesday, April 23rd.

A post-mortem has now been carried out on Mr McIlwaine’s remains.

A PSNI spokesman said: “Police are trying to piece together John’s movements before his death. “At this stage, police are not treating the death as suspicious, but they are keen to speak to anyone who may have seen or spoke with John McIlwaine in the days or weeks after Wednesday 23 April.”

Anyone who can assist detectives is asked to contact them on the new non-emergency number 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Earlier this week the principal of the Model Primary School in Derry paid tribute to pupils for their maturity after they discovered the body during a field trip.

The Primary 7 class of 27 pupils had been combing the beach at Magilligan in small groups, when five of them saw the outline of a body and reported it to their teacher.

Model PS Principal Paul Sheridan at the time told the Journal that everyone’s thoughts were with the man’s family.

Mr Sheridan said the children had been on a nature trail when they made the discovery.

He said: “They were working in groups when they came across the body, and they then reported to their teacher. The children were taken away from the scene and the appropriate authorities, police, coastguard, on both sides of the border were informed.

“I was contacted at the school and the children then went and had their lunch and came back to school.

“I have been in contact with the relevant authorities within the Western Board and spoke to the children who were in the group that found the body. We also contacted all the parents of that class to tell them what had happened.

“What we have encouraged them to do is talk about the incident, let the children talk about it and share their experience, and to keep a close eye on them.

“None of them at this stage seem to be traumatised.

“All the children acted in a very mature manner. They came back and spoke about it very clearly. We looked at the positive aspect of it- what we told the children is that they have been fortunate in that they have helped bring closure to a traumatic event for some family.”

Mr Sheridan added: “We don’t know who the person is, but the school extends our condolences to the family. They are in our prayers.”