First photograph released of murdered loyalist David Murphy
DETECTIVES have released a photograph of murdered loyalist David Murphy whose body was found with shotgun wounds at his Co Antrim farmhouse.
On Wednesday night police confirmed they are investigating whether an assault on the 52-year-old well known loyalist at his home is linked to the fatal shooting.
Murphy was well known to police and was on bail at the time of his murder awaiting trial for his alleged part in a blackmail plot and threats to kill a man who was ordered to hand over £10,000.
A neighbour found Murphy’s body on Tuesday afternoon, although he may have been murdered the previous evening. He had been blasted twice with a shotgun in an attack detectives described as “brutal”. Sources say Murphy was attacked by a three-man gang some time over the weekend at his home on Church Road in Glenwherry, on the outskirts of Ballymena. Police said they were aware of reports of an earlier assault on the murdered man and this was “something they are looking at as part of part the inquiry”.
Murphy, described in court as a ‘sheep farmer’, had loyalist paramilitary links. In 2004 he was charged with possession of a large haul of weapons belonging to the UVF, including a sub machine gun and four pistols.
While he retained links with loyalists from that organisation he was also known to associate with a criminal family with connections to the breakaway LVF.
Sources say Murphy may have been involved in supplying stolen vehicles, including heavy farm machinery, to members of an LVF crime gang for use in recent ATM thefts in Co Antrim.
The theft earlier this month of a cash machine from a service station on Glenavy Road, near Moira, and two further ATMs from an Asda store in Antrim were linked by detectives at the time.
A white Mitsubishi used in the Asda incident was discovered burnt out in Ballyclare, a short drive from Murphy’s farmhouse.
A fallout between Murphy and the loyalist gang linked to the ATM thefts is expected to form one line of inquiry.
Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy of the Major Investigation Team appealed for anyone who was near the victim’s house between Saturday afternoon and Tuesday lunch time to contact police.
“This was not just an attack on David. It was an attack on his parents and siblings who will have to come to terms with their loss,” he said.