‘The support has been fantastic’

The Murphy family and Joby's girlfriend Karen McKeever present the new sonar equipment to Sean McCarry from the Community Rescue Service.

The Murphy family and Joby's girlfriend Karen McKeever present the new sonar equipment to Sean McCarry from the Community Rescue Service.

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THE grieving family of Glengormley man Joby Murphy have hailed the support they received after his tragic drowning as “absolutely fantastic”.

Joby Murphy died after he fell into the River Lagan following a night out in Belfast in January.

Joby Murphy. INNT 05-055-FP

Joby Murphy. INNT 05-055-FP

After four weeks, the 20-year-old’s body was found in the river by specialist search teams using expensive sonar equipment that had to be sourced from Mallow in County Cork.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, family and friends of the hotel worker launched the Joby Murphy Trust to raise funds to buy and install the same specialist search equipment that located Joby’s remains at Belfast Harbour.

After a series of fundraisers as well as contributions from indie rock band Snow Patrol - whose concert Joby attended on the night he died - the fund attained its target of £35,000.

On Friday night (August 3) the family held a presentation ceremony in the Hilton Hotel, where Joby worked, to hand over the sonar equipment to the Community Rescue Service.

Joby’s father, Joe said: “It is hard to believe six months have passed since Joby was found. Everyone that supported the Trust and our family has been absolutely fantastic. From a schoolgirl in the street to Snow Patrol, it really has been fantastic and a big achievement to raise so much money in such a short space of time.”

He added: “The Mallow Search and Rescue Service, which found Joby, played a pivotal role in the search. They were totally committed and very professional and we owe them a lot and thank them for their help.

“The Community Rescue Service also played an important part and we are delighted to be able to hand over the sonar equipment. It is state-of-the-art and we are delighted that it will now be in Belfast for anyone that needs it.”

Sean McCarry from the Community Rescue Service added: “This is an important tool in the army of people searching for missing people.

“We have nine teams within the organisation which will use this equipment and it will also be used by the police, ambulance and fire service and that is vitally important.”

He added: “We are a totally voluntary organisation and the support of the community, like those who have supported the Joby Murphy Trust, is vitally important to us.”

Also this week the Murphy family unveiled a plaque on the wall of the meerkat enclosure at Belfast Zoo in memory of their son, who was affectionately known as Joby ‘ze meerkat’ by his friends.

Mark Challis, Manager at the zoo said: “Meerkats reflect all that is good about family life. They constantly look out for each other and are always willing and able to offer support to each other.

“Although I did not know Joby, from what I have heard those characteristics are very similar to his own and we are honoured to place this plaque at the meerkat enclosure to honour his memory.”

The family also held a meeting with senior police officers over problems they had with the search operation. The family described the five-hour meeting as “very productive”.

Meanwhile, the family have confirmed to the Times that the inquest into the circumstances surrounding Joby’s death will open on October 31.