PC Neil Doyle, 36, died after an early morning assault on a group of three officers near a city centre nightclub – just weeks before his honeymoon”
Detectives investigating the death of off-duty police constable Neil Doyle have arrested a man on suspicion of murder, Merseyside Police said tonight.
The 28-year-old suspect handed himself in to police this evening and is currently being interviewed by detectives, officers said.
Pc Doyle, a 36-year-old beat bobby, was set upon by three men in what his boss described as an unprovoked and vicious attack.
He may have been targeted because of his job.
Badly beaten, he lost consciousness and died in hospital. Two colleagues were also injured in the incident.
Police say it appears the gang of attackers knew their victims were off-duty officers. Sir Jon Murphy, Merseyside’s Chief Constable, said: ‘Constable Doyle was enjoying a Christmas night out with his work colleagues.
‘They were subjected to an apparently unprovoked and vicious attack by a group of males. There is no indication whatsoever that they were involved in any kind of argument or altercation earlier in the evening.
‘The officer I have spoken to has indicated that the individuals who approached them referred to them as police officers.
‘They then assaulted the officers, leaving two with nasty head injuries and resulting in the tragic death of Neil.’
The fight, which involved no weapons, broke out in Colquitt Street, central Liverpool, at 3.15am following the officers’ Christmas party at a pub.
The attackers vanished when it became clear that Mr Doyle was seriously hurt.
Officers and bouncers from a nearby club tried to revive him before paramedics arrived. The street remained cordoned off last night as forensics officers looked for clues.
Ryan McMahon, who owns the Aloha club outside which the attack happened, said his doormen told him the officers and their attackers appeared to know each other.
‘There were two groups of three men walking past Aloha when they started fighting each other,’ he said. ‘A couple of punches were thrown, then one of them stumbled over toward a car on the other side of the road – he didn’t fall down at first.
‘After a couple of minutes when he didn’t get up his mates went to help him.
‘Our doormen went over and tried to resuscitate him, performing CPR until the ambulance came. There were a lot of off-duty police officers there by that time.
‘Some female officers were really upset, screaming and shouting.’
The two off-duty officers who were with Mr Doyle needed hospital treatment – one for a fractured cheekbone and the other for a less serious facial injury.
Mr Doyle married only five months ago and he and wife Sarah, 37, had booked a belated honeymoon for the new year. Sir Jon said the constable was a patrol officer who had served with the force for ten years.
He had won a commendation for arresting three violent robbers.
The Chief Constable said it was a ‘sad day’ for Merseyside police and sent his ‘heartfelt condolences’ to Mrs Doyle and the officer’s family.
Flags were flown at half-mast at police stations across Merseyside as a mark of respect and Peter Singleton, chairman of the area’s Police Federation, said colleagues were devastated.
‘He was a good, well-liked, hard-working bobby who did his best to support the community,’ Mr Singleton said.
‘He had commendations from the force for his good work. Sometimes it seems hollow and false to say these words but he really was a good, skilled, dependable cop, who would always do his best for the public.
‘If you’re a sergeant, police constables like Mr Doyle are exactly what you want. He will be sorely missed.’
Mr Doyle’s wife, his mother, Theresa, 61, and brother, Greg, 42, were too upset to talk and were being comforted by friends and family last night.
One neighbour, Margaret Murphy, 61, said: ‘It’s such a shock. Neil was a lovely lad, very quiet and unassuming. I can’t get over it. I saw his wife and brother this morning, they were very upset.
‘They told me Neil had passed away after an incident in town. It’s so terrible, especially so close to Christmas.’
Another neighbour, Theresa Doyle, who is no relation, added: ‘Neil was a lovely neighbour, very polite.
‘He wasn’t the type to get into trouble – if anything I would guess he had stepped in and tried to solve a problem. He was a really good character. They kept their lives very private. To be honest you would never have known he was a police officer.
‘I just feel for Sarah now, and how she copes without him. It is such a shame. It is such sad news.’
Last night police said anyone with information should contact Merseyside police on freephone 0800 230 0600 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Daily Mail Online.