Family’s devastation over death of young soldier

Matthew Boyd pictured on holiday in Spain.  INCT 19-733-CON

Matthew Boyd pictured on holiday in Spain. INCT 19-733-CON

A Carrickfergus family has been left devastated following the death of a young soldier in Wales at the weekend.

Matthew Boyd, 20, was found injured and unconscious in Brecon, Powys around 1am on Sunday, police said.

Pte Matthew Boyd of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment

Pte Matthew Boyd of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment

He later died in hospital.

A 23-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder and Dyfed-Powys Police said on Monday that a second man has also been detained.

Matthew grew up in Greenisland and moved to Spain with his family he was seven.

Many of his relatives still live in the Carrickfergus area, including his grandparents, David and Maureen Boyd.

The young private, who was serving with the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, was returning from a night out with friends when he was attacked just 400 yards from his base at Watton Barracks.

He was in Brecon for a training course, according to his aunt Elaine Mawhirk.

“Matthew joined the army when he was 16; it was his passion and something he always wanted to do,” added Elaine, who lives in Carrick. “He had actually already completed the course, but volunteered to do it again as the numbers were short.”

Matthew’s grandfather David was visiting Gibraltar when the tragedy occurred, and it was he who broke the news to relatives in Northern Ireland.

“We’re just shocked and totally devastated. It’s very unreal at the minute,” Elaine said.

“We’re a very close-knit family; we all would have went on holidays together and the family would have come over home [to Carrickfergus] for Christmas a lot of years.

“Matthew had a very strong relationship with my mum [his grandmother] and he always kept in touch with her about what he was up to. His grandparents were so proud of his achievements, as we all were.”

A former pupil of Silverstream Primary School in Greenisland, Matthew had grown to be an “outgoing and fun-loving” young man who was due to celebrate his 21st birthday on May 25. “He had just bought his first car last year, a BM, and he recently booked a holiday to Thailand,” his aunt said.

Matthew leaves behind his mum and dad, David and Michelle; brothers James and Darren, and sister Katie.

Arrangements for a military funeral in Gibraltar are currently on hold due to the ongoing investigation into his murder.

A police spokesman said: “Detectives investigating the murder of a serving member of the Armed Forces in Brecon confirm that they have arrested a further male, aged 22 years, in connection with this offence.

“The first male, aged 23 years, remains in police custody.”

Part of Brecon town centre was cordoned off on Sunday as police investigated the killing.

Inspector Jacqui Lovatt said police did not believe there was any terrorist link to the murder.

“We would very much like to thank the military personnel and local community for all their continued support during this investigation and what is a truly tragic circumstance.

“There is nothing to suggest that Matthew Boyd being a soldier was a motivation for this assault, nor is there anything to indicate any links to terrorism.

“Our deepest thoughts go out to Matthew’s family, friends and regiment.”

Paying tribute to Matthew was Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Billy Ashe.

“Matthew’s grandfather, David Boyd retired from the Council in January 2015 having been with the Cleansing Department in Carrickfergus since September 1987,” Cllr Ashe said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our former colleague, David and with all of Matthew’s family both at home and abroad.

“The loss of someone so young is a tragedy and it’s terrible that Matthew’s young life has been lost in these circumstances.”

Commanding Officer of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Ivor Lopez said: “The whole regiment is devastated to learn about the tragic death of Pte Matthew Boyd of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment.

“Matthew, or ‘Boyd’ as he was commonly known by his friends, joined the Regiment in August 2012 when he was just 17 years of age. A committed and utterly reliable individual, Pte Boyd was an outstanding soldier with a bright future ahead of him.

“Witty, full of life and with an outgoing personality, he was widely respected and an extremely popular member of this unit. His untimely death leaves a huge void in the regiment and his loss will be acutely felt by all of us. The regiment has lost a great soldier and a close friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with Matthew’s family and friends at this tragic time. “