Northern Ireland

Brian McIlhagga: Appeal over 2015 'paramilitary' murder

Brian McIlhagga Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Mr McIlhagga, a father of five from Ballymena, died after he was beaten and shot in both legs by a masked gang

Police investigating the murder of a County Antrim man have said the "shadow of paramilitary involvement" may be stopping witnesses from coming forward.

Brian McIlhagga was beaten by a gang of masked men and then shot in both legs in Ballymoney on 5 January 2015.

On the second anniversary of his death, detectives have appealed for help to bring his killers to justice.

Last year, police said they believed the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) had played a role in the murder.

'Screams of terror'

Mr McIlhagga, a father of five from Ballymena, was visiting a friend's house in Riverview Park at the time of the attack.

There were four children under the age of 13 in the house when the masked gang entered the house and began to assault the 42-year-old victim in the kitchen.

He was then dragged outside and shot in the legs. He died at the scene.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A child who was in the house at the time saw the victim lying in the garden

The officer leading the murder inquiry, Det Ch Insp Michael Harvey, said: "These young children heard his screams of terror and pain while the violent injuries were being inflicted.

"That is going to affect them for the rest of their lives. The 13 year-old would also have had some sight of Brian lying injured in the front garden."

The officer repeated his statement from last year which said: "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 also."

Twelve people have been arrested as part of the investigation but no-one has been charged.

'Protecting killers'

Det Ch Insp Harvey said: "It may be that the shadow of paramilitary involvement which hangs over this incident is putting people off coming forward. But I would say to those people with information - put yourselves in the place of those children, Brian's friends and family and the trauma they've been through.

"It is important for people to come forward. Nothing justifies this murder in any way whatsoever. People know who was involved. People know where they went afterwards. They haven't come forward. They are protecting those killers.

"I would appeal to those with information, no matter how small, to contact detectives at Maydown on 101 or, if you do not wish to provide your details, please use the independent Crimestoppers charity number 0800 555 111."

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