Northern Ireland news

Analysis: Daylight murder designed to send out a chilling message

Jim JD Donegan on his stag weekend in Marbella two years ago.

DETECTIVES were yesterday remaining tight-lipped about the motive for the brutal daylight assassination of Jim Donegan.

Chilling pictures of the killer calmly walking towards the gates of a west Belfast school - passing children and parents on the afternoon school run - will shock many.

The calculated and precise manner of the shooting, in such a busy area in front of dozens of potential witnesses, all points to a professional hitman, one who clearly knew the victim's routine and did not fear being identified.

Wearing a hi-vis jacket, with security on the back, the killer walks towards St Mary's Grammar school, just minutes later Mr Donegan's £80,000 Porsche Panamera is seen driving toward's his 13-year-old son's school.

The precision of the planning meant the killer was in the area for only a matter of minutes, firing eight shots at Mr Donegan, hitting him in the head and chest, killing him almost instantly.

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The car dealer, who had a number of business interests and associates on both sides of the border, was often pictured in the company of people with close links to criminal gangs in the Republic.

Forensic officers at the scene of a murder on the Glen Road in west Belfast Picture Mal McCann.

Police however are refusing to be drawn on whether Mr Donegan was known to them or whether he was aware he was under threat in the weeks leading up to his murder.

Read More: Wife of murder victim Jim Donegan pays touching tribute 

While the investigation into his death is still in the early stages, the origins of the weapon used and the seemingly professional and calculated manner in which he was murdered will all need to be examined at by detectives.

His murder was carried out in a way not seen in Northern Ireland in many years. Police would not say whether they had asked An Garda Siochana for assistance in tracing the killer.

The gunman disappeared into the upper Andersonstown estate without a trace, leaving behind him a scene of devastation with traumatised eye-witnesses.

There was no getaway vehicle, no sightings beyond a brief glimpse of an unmasked killer making his escape on CCTV footage through a nearby housing estate.

Mr Donegan's killing was designed to send out a message, designed to show the capability to kill at any time or place.

It will have no doubt left many people who associated with the murdered man fearful for the own safety in the coming weeks and months.

Read more: CCTV shows gunman walking calmly to the scene of the killing

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