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Friends and family pay tribute as funerals held for Clutha crash victims

The first funerals have been held for customers who died when a police helicopter crashed through the roof of a pub.

Mark O'Prey's funeral. Picture: Jamie Simpson.
Mark O'Prey's funeral. Picture: Jamie Simpson.

Mark O'Prey, 44, and Gary Arthur, 48, were among the nine victims of the tragedy at the Clutha bar in Glasgow on November 29.

The men were on a night out at the bar where a local band was playing when the aircraft plummeted through the ceiling.

Investigators said today they have found no evidence of engine or gear box failure and that their inquiries into what caused the crash is continuing.

At St Bride's RC Church in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, hundreds of mourners paid their respects to window cleaner Mr O'Prey whose family described him as a "lovable giant".

Among them were his father Ian, mother Mona, sisters Louise and Barbara, his 15-year-old son Liam and former partner Clare Gillies.

The requiem mass was led by Father Owen Ness who said Mr O'Prey had died in a place where people went to be together and to be happy.

"That was the place where Mark was happy and that was the place where his life ended so unexpectedly," he said.

"This journey that Mark O'Prey had, it ended so unexpectedly."

A message on the order of service said: "The kindness shown not just by family and friends but from the nation as a whole has been of tremendous support to Mark's family."

A gathering is planned at the Village Inn in East Kilbride to celebrate Mr O'Prey's life and his love of music.

His sister Louise said following his death: ''Mark was an adorable, loveable giant. He was always laughing and would do anything for anybody.'

"He's an unbelievable character, one in a million."

Mr Arthur was remembered at a humanist service at Woodside Crematorium in Paisley, Renfrewshire, where an estimated 400 to 500 people attended.

His daughter Chloe plays football for Celtic and Scotland women's under-19s football teams and he was said to be a regular on the match sidelines.

A minute's silence was held before Celtic's match against Hearts last week as a mark of respect to all the victims.

In a statement released ahead of the funeral, Mr Arthur's family said: "We loved him dearly and always will, we will miss him so much.

"We will continue to make him proud. He always tried to do his best for us and to be there for us. He was the best dad and it's devastating that our dad has been taken from us in such a tragic way."

Police constables Kirsty Nelis, 36, and Tony Collins, 43, were on board the helicopter piloted by David Traill, 51.

The others who died inside the pub were Robert Jenkins, 61, Colin Gibson, 33, John McGarrigle, 57, and Samuel McGhee, 56.

Mr Traill's funeral was held at Glasgow University on Saturday when around 700 mourners gathered to hear moving tributes from the former RAF pilot's partner and friends.

Memorials for Pc Collins and Mr McGarrigle will take place tomorrow.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said in an initial report that there was "no evidence of major mechanical disruption of either engine" of the Eurocopter

EC135 as it returned from a police operation in Dalkeith, Midlothian on the night of the crash. The pilot made no mayday call and radar contact with the helicopter was lost at 10.22pm.

Police Scotland said a 33-year-old man has been arrested in connection with offensive online comments following the disaster.

Colin Robertson from Glasgow was charged with threatening or abusive behaviour at the city's sheriff court on Friday.

He made no plea or declaration and was released on bail.

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