Northern Ireland news

Man arrested over Malcolm McKeown murder

Malcolm McKeown was shot dead in Waringstown, metres from his home

A 30-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of Malcolm McKeown in Waringstown, Co Down.

Police said two searches have been carried out and two are ongoing in Lurgan and Waringstown.

Malcolm McKeown (54) was shot dead at a petrol station two days ago. He was found dead in his silver car which was parked behind the petrol station on Main Street.

Police believe the father of three was targeted at around 7.15om as he left the filling station and returned to his BMW.

A car believed to be used in the attack was found burned out a short distance away at the Gordon Playing Fields in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

The 'career criminal' had been released on bail just days before he was shot dead.

He had been due to appear at Lisburn Magistrates Court earlier on Monday while awaiting trial for his alleged role in an aggravated burglary last November.

However, McKeown, whose DNA was said to be found on cable ties used to tie up the victim in the robbery, failed to appear with his solicitor telling the magistrate his bail conditions prevented him from entering the city.

McKeown was a brother of LVF killers Clifford and Trevor McKeown. All three brothers would have been close associates of murdered LVF boss Billy Wright and both Clifford and Trevor served prison sentences for two separate sectarian murders.

Clifford McKeown, a former loyalist supergrass, is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick who was shot dead in July 1996, apparently as a 'birthday present' for Wright.

Trevor McKeown was convicted of shooting dead Catholic teenager Bernadette Martin as she slept in her Protestant boyfriend’s family home in the village of Aghalee, Co Antrim, at the height of the Drumcree march dispute.

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There are fears that there could be further bloodshed as associates of Malcolm McKeown seek to avenge the killing.

McKeown was under threat from criminal elements and was believed to have been heavily linked to the drugs trade in Co Down.

In 2011 he was charged in connection with the murder of husband and wife Hugh (56) and Jackie McGeough (44) who were shot dead at their Legahory Court home in Craigavon.

At the time prosecutors claimed McKeown was owed £13,000 from the couple who were also linked to the drugs trade.

He was accused of possessing the firearm used in the murder and two rounds of ammunition which were discovered inside a plastic bag in Waringstown. McKeown's DNA was alleged to have been found on a misfired round at the crime scene.

However, the evidence for the charge was based on low-copy DNA which was later deemed inadmissible and the charges dropped.

More recently he was accused of orchestrating a campaign of intimidation against the owners and staff of a Co Down hotel. Those charges were also later withdrawn.

His gang had been linked to a campaign of intimidation with the burning of cars and attacks on a number of properties in Lisburn, including an arson attack on the car of a serving police officer.

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