Northern Ireland

Brian McIlhagga murder: Police link UDA to Ballymoney killing as new appeal is issued

Police have issued a leaflet appealing for information Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Police have set up checkpoints and are issuing leaflets appealing for information on Brian McIlhagga's killing

Detectives investigating the murder of a father of five in County Antrim have said they are "tantalisingly close" to making a breakthrough in the case on the anniversary of his death.

Brian McIlhagga, 42, was beaten and shot in both legs in Riverview Park, Ballymoney, on 5 January 2015.

He later died from his injuries.

As police issued a new appeal for information, they said they believe the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) had a role in the killing.

Mr McIlhagga was attacked by a group of masked men before being dragged from a house and then shot.

Brutality

A 33-year-old woman who lived in the house was also beaten and four children who witnessed the attack were traumatised.

On Mr McIlhagga's anniversary, police distributed leaflets in the area and set up checkpoints.

Image caption Brian McIlhagga was beaten and shot in Riverview Park in Ballymoney

Det Ch Insp Michael Harvey said "violence and brutality" in the attack "far exceeds anything I've experienced in 29 years of police service".

"One would have to ask why such a level of brutality was used," he said.

Paramilitary

"There was certainly paramilitary involvement in this attack, but another line of inquiry is that there may well have been some sort of personal grudge.

"I believe we have identified a number of the individuals who have attacked Brian and another group of other individuals who may well have been on the periphery of this attack."

No-one has been charged in connection with the murder and police believe that fears about paramilitary involvement have stopped people coming forward.

They have urged anyone with information to help them.

Det Ch Insp Harvey added: "The family needs closure and the community needs justice."

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