Tributes have poured in for a young businessman who died in hospital after being assaulted in Portadown over the weekend.
ake Bailey-Sloan (23) was well known in the town of Co Armagh. The young entrepreneur opened The Mill, an outdoor activity center in Portadown, when he was just 19 years old.
He spent much of his childhood with his grandparents, originally from Tandragee, but who are missionaries in South Africa.
The grieving couple, who affectionately called their grandson “Jakey Boy,” asked people to pray for healing.
However, the popular businessman died of his injuries on Monday.
Police are now treating the incident as a murder investigation and have arrested a man in his twenties. They also asked for witnesses to come forward.
Jake had returned to his native Northern Ireland four years ago to study at Queen’s University, where he earned an engineering degree.
Despite his young age, he converted the then-disused Blackers Mill into an indoor and outdoor fighting game center.
Independent trade union adviser Paul Berry knew Jake well and said he was an “inspiring young man” who was full of ambition.
“I have known his grandparents, Valarie and Davy, for many years,” he said.
“A few years ago I got a call telling me that Jake was coming back to Northern Ireland and wanted to start a business.
“I met him in a local cafe, he was only 19 at the time and yet I was blown away by his ambition, vision and enthusiasm.
“He had this vision for Blackers Mill, to turn it into a paintball center and he achieved that and more.
“He had turned the old caretaker’s house into his home and lived there.
“His grandfather, Davy, is a great builder, so he helped him a lot.
“When I first met him, I remember telling him, ‘You realize this is a huge task for a 19-year-old,’ and he said, ‘Yes, but I am. up to the challenge ”, and he certainly was that.
“It is now such a popular place with children’s parties and the like.
“I spoke to Valerie just to tell her that I was thinking and praying for them and if they needed any help I was only on the other side of a phone, they are devastated as you can. to imagine.
“Jake had a huge bunch of friends, he was very popular, a real entrepreneur and businessman.
“When the news of his death comes, I’ll be honest with you – I had a hard time sleeping. He was such an impressive young man and to see this cut short life is just tragic. “
On Tuesday, detectives had an additional 36 hours to interview a 22-year-old suspect in the murder of Mr Bailey Sloan.
A close friend paid tribute saying, “Words cannot express how much you will miss everyone, every time I have met you there was nothing but a warm welcome, such positive energy and such enthusiasm for what you were doing at the Moulin.
“You will be sadly missed by everyone who knew you, every new player who walks through the doors of the company you opened, not only your colleagues but your team, the family you created there.
“Gone way too soon.”
DUP MP Jonathan Buckley said it was “horrible” to hear of the young businessman’s death.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.”
Portadown Rugby and Football Club said they were “deeply saddened” by the death of Jake, who was one of their players.
“Everyone at CFRP would like to send our condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time.”
Another friend said: “Today we are all struggling with the reality that you are not here and you will not be here tomorrow.
“It has been an absolute privilege to meet you and every day I am deeply grateful for the opportunities you have given me.”
Detective Sergeant Stephen Wilson said police believed Jake was assaulted outside the authorized premises at the junction of West Street and Mandeville Street in downtown Portadown at around 1:40 a.m. Sunday morning.
“Shortly after the assault, it was reported that the man had fallen on the street and was taken by ambulance to hospital.
“From the CCTV footage of the scene at the time of the incident, we can see that there were a large number of pedestrians and motorists in the area. I appeal to anyone who witnessed the assault or has footage of the onboard camera scene that may assist us in our investigation to contact Lurgan’s detectives on 101, citing reference number 569 17 / 10/21. A report can also be submitted online using the non-urgent report form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org/.