Police investigate possible loyalist motive in Co Antrim murder

PSNI pursuing ‘multiple lines of inquiry’ after farmer (52) killed in shotgun attack

Local SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan said the murder was to be “deeply deplored”

Local SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan said the murder was to be “deeply deplored”

 

Police are trying to establish if there were a loyalist paramilitary motive behind the murder of David Hugh Murphy who was discovered shot dead in his home in Co Antrim on Tuesday.

The 52-year-old farmer, who was known to police, was killed in a shotgun attack at his house on Church Road, Glenwherry on the outskirts of Ballymena.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) senior investigating officer Det Supt Jason Murphy said on Wednesday it was not precisely established when he was shot. He appealed for anyone who was in the Glenwherry areas between Saturday and Tuesday to come forward to the police to determine if they could assist the investigation.

Det Supt Murphy said police were pursuing “multiple lines of inquiry” and that it was too early to state whether his past criminal record had any bearing on his murder.

He confirmed however that as one line of inquiry police were examining whether his loyalist background played a part in his murder.

“David was in his home and was entitled to feel safe in his home. David was known to police and his background will form part of the investigation to establish whether or not it is relevant to his murder. It is certainly too early to come to any definitive position on that,” he said.

“Regardless of his background he was entitled to think that he was safe in his house,” he said.

“The investigation, of course, will look at, was any of his history relevant to this murder investigation.”

The officer said police were seeking public assistance in trying to track down the killer or killers. He urged local people to be on the lookout for the murder weapon in case it was discarded or hidden in the area.

Local SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan said the murder was to be “deeply deplored”.

“The victim had a history of involvement in loyalist violence, and it seems likely that the motive for the murder lies in that arena,” he said.

“The lesson is that these shadowy forces who wreak such havoc need to be rooted out of our society,” said Mr O’Loan.

DUP MP for North Antrim Ian Paisley also suggested a paramilitary link to the murder which he described as “absolutely disgraceful”.

“This part of my constituency is a very rural, remote and quiet area - a place where people would notice tranquillity, not terrorism,” he said. “What has happened here has shattered that silence.”

Mr Paisley told the BBC: “There is no room for gun law in this society - there’s nothing justified about a man picking up a gun and taking a man’s life no matter what the circumstances are.”

East Antrim Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson condemned the attack. “This is a shocking incident and my thoughts are with the loved ones of the deceased at what must be an extremely sad time for them,” he said.

“It will have caused great distress in what is a quiet, rural area.”

Local Sinn Féin representative Oliver McMullan said the community was in shock. “This is a quiet area and locals are alarmed at what has happened,” he said.

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