Family grieve for Alex

The late Alex McKee, from Limavady.
The late Alex McKee, from Limavady.

The family of Limavady man Alex McKee are “devastated” after they found the body of their much loved step-father exactly one week after he disappeared.

Alex McKee,(56), was discovered in an industrial estate close to the Newbridge Road in Coleraine on Sunday afternoon, just hours after police issued a fresh appeal for help in finding him.

“The death is not believed to be suspicious at this stage,” the PSNI said.

Extensive land and air searches had been continuing for the well-known painter and decorator, who had been missing since December 23 when CCTV footage had shown Mr. McKee leaving the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine two minutes before 10am.

The step-father of eight had been in hospital since the previous Thursday.

Close family friend, Limavady mayor Cathal McLaughlin said the family were in “pieces”.

“The family always had hope Alex would be found alive, even as late as Sunday when the reconstruction was being staged,” he said. “They’re in pieces, just devastated, and they need time to grieve, to have privacy and come to terms with what has happened, but, on their behalf, they want to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped search for Alex - the police, family, friends and the Community Rescue team.”

Mayor McLaughlin added: “My heart goes out to the family at this very sad time and, I’m sure, I say that on behalf of the entire borough. It may be a very small comfort, but now they can give Alex the dignified burial he deserves.”

Just hours before Mr. McKee was found, his family had said they remained hopeful he would be found. Police had staged reconstructions of Alex leaving the hospital, using his brother who looks like him.

A second reconstruction was also carried out at the Jet Centre area, while police handed out flyers to passing motorists.

Speaking on Sunday, after a noon press conference, Mr. McKee’s step-daughter Kathy Harbinson said it had been an incredibly difficult week, but said the support of friends, family, the PSNI, Sean McGarry and the Community Rescue team had been tremendous.

Sean McCarry from Community Rescue offered his condolences to the family.

He said a team of 40 people, alongside family and friends of Mr. Mckee and the PSNI had been involved in the searches since Boxing Day.

“Our sympathies go out to the family of Alex,” said Mr. McCarry.

“It’s very sad when a loved one has been lost and can be even sadder when they are not re-united with them. It may be a small comfort to the family but they have been re-united with Alex.”

The PSNI also offered their condolences to Mr. McKee’s family.