Northern Ireland

Murder inquiry after four-year missing person search

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionMark Gourley, from the Castlemara estate, was reported missing in March 2009.

Police investigating the disappearance of a 36-year-old Carrickfergus man four years ago have begun a murder inquiry.

Mark Gourley, from the Castlemara estate in the County Antrim town, was reported missing in March 2009.

Detectives said he was last seen in the Glengormley area. At the time of his disappearance he was described as "vulnerable".

In a statement, the PSNI said: "As a result of new evidence, police have launched a murder investigation."

In a fresh appeal for information, the PSNI described Mr Gourley as "vulnerable individual" who was on medication at the time of his disappearance.

Det Inspt Neil McGuinness said: "Previous appeals for information did generate reports of sightings.

"However, the last definitive sighting of Mark was at 2.30pm on 7 March 2009 in the Burney's Lane area of Glengormley.

Image caption Detective Inspector Neil McGuinness said a murder inquiry had begun as a result of new information

"Mark did not have a mobile phone or a significant amount of money with him when he disappeared. "

He said that Mr Gourley had "associations" with loyalist paramilitary groupings at the time he disappeared, but was not a senior member.

The police said he may have returned to the Castlemara area of Carrickfergus on the day he was last seen.

"Police believe that there are people in these communities who have knowledge of what has happened to Mark. People may have heard rumours about what happened to Mark," said det inspt McGuinness.

"Police are asking for anyone who may have noticed vehicles or individuals acting suspiciously in either the Burney's Lane area of Glengormley or in the Castlemara area of Carrickfergus around 07 March 2009 to contact police on 02890 259 542."

Mr Gourley was about 5ft, 9" tall, described as well-built, with fair, cropped hair, and an eyebrow bolt in his right eyebrow.

At the time of his disappearance, was wearing a black zipped jacket with a grey motif on the back of the shoulders, dark Umbro tracksuit bottoms, black trainers and may have been wearing a blue Glasgow Rangers woollen hat.

More on this story