Northern Ireland news

Murder victim Malcolm McKeown a member of notorious loyalist family involved in sectarian killings

Clifford McKeown, who was convicted of killing taxi driver Michael McGoldrick

MURDER victim Malcolm McKeown was a member of a notorious loyalist family.

Both his brothers served life sentences for separate sectarian killings and were linked to numerous other unsolved murders in the Mid Ulster area as members of Billy Wright's sectarian Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).

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.

The 37-year-old victim had graduated from Queen's University just days before. His wife Sadie was pregnant with their second child at the time.

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Murder victim Michael McGoldrick who was shot dead by Clifford McKeown.

Clifford McKeown was convicted of the murder in 2003 on the evidence of journalist Nick Martin-Clark.

He had confessed to the killing to during a series of interviews in Maghaberry prison where he was serving a sentence for a number of armed robberies.

Mr Martin-Clark, had promised McKeown confidentiality but decided to break his undertaking after hearing the grisly details of the shooting. He later was forced to leave is home and go into the witness protection programme.

Clifford McKeown remains in jail serving 24 years of a life sentence. Since no group claimed him as a member of its organisation he is ineligible for early release under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

His brother Trevor McKeown was also 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.

He shot the 18-year-old in the head as she lay sleeping in a bedroom.

The trial heard that the young couple had stayed overnight at McKeown's Aghalee home two weeks before the murder.

The murder weapon was the same gun used by his brother in the killing of Michael McGoldrick.

Teenage murder victim Bernadette Martin, who was shot dead by Trevor McKeown.

McKeown was sentenced to life in prison for the July 1997 murder but was released in 2012 by the Sentence Review Commission on the grounds it was "satisfied that, if released immediately, you would not be a danger to the public".

Trevor McKeown also claimed RUC detectives had urged him to kill Lurgan human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson two years before she was assassinated by loyalists in a 1999 under-car bombing.

He has since disassociated himself from criminality.

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