A MAN who passed away in hospital on Monday following a serious assault in January has been named as Colin Prime, a serving police officer.
Mr Prime, 41, was off-duty when he attacked in South Belfast in the early hours of Sunday, January 29 while waiting for a lift beside licensed premises.
Following his death, detectives have launched a murder enquiry but say the victim's occupation was not a factor in the attack.
"My thoughts, and deepest sympathies, are first and foremost with Colin's family who have been left bereft," said Detective Inspector Michelle Griffin.
"Friends and colleagues are deeply saddened by Colin's death.
"The assault occurred between 3am and 3.30am on Sunday, January 29 when Colin was waiting for a lift in the car park beside licensed premises.
"It has been reported that three men approached Colin and his friend before an altercation occurred which spilled out onto the Malone Road, at the junction of Eglantine Avenue.
"I can confirm that Colin's occupation as a police officer had no bearing on the attack."
Three men who were arrested in connection with the incident remain on police bail.
Paying tribute to Mr Prime, his former rugby club, Banbridge RFC, offered their condolences to his family.
"The President and members of Banbridge Rugby Club have been greatly saddened by the news of the passing of former player Colin Prime in tragic circumstances," read a statement.
"Deepest condolences are extended to Colin's parents, Jim and Carol, and to the wider family circle."
Meanwhile, DI Griffin appealed for anyone with information to contact police.
She said: "We know that this area would have been relatively busy with vehicles at the time, particularly taxi drivers, and would appeal to anyone who may have been in the vicinity to check their dashcam for relevant footage.
"If you have any information which could assist our investigation, please contact detectives on 101, quoting reference number 1297 of 16/02/23."
Information can also be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online crimestoppers-uk.org.