Northern Ireland news

Fears of more bloodshed after fatal shooting of Malcolm McKeown

It is believed that murder victim Malcolm McKeown was well known to police.

THERE are fears of further bloodshed after the gangland-style killing of Malcolm McKeown who was shot dead just yards from his home in Co Down on Monday night.

The body of the 54-year-old 'career criminal' was found in his silver-coloured BMW car parked behind a petrol station on Main Street in Waringstown at about 9pm.

Police said last night they believed he was targeted at around 7.15om as he left the filling station and returned to his car.

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

He had been released on bail just days before he was shot dead.

A forensic examination of the scene where Malcolm McKeown was shot dead as he sat in his car behind a filling station in Waringstown, Co Down. Picture by Mal McCann.

He had been due to appear at Lisburn Magistrates Court earlier on Monday - his co accused was refused bail - 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.

A brother of LVF killers Clifford and Trevor McKeown, the victim was well known to police.

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.

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

A forensic examination of the scene where Malcolm McKeown was shot dead as he sat in his car behind a filling station in Warringstown, Co Down Picture Mal McCann.

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 and Jackie McGeough who were shot dead at their Legahory Court home.

Jacqueline McGeough (44) was shot three times and her 56-year-old husband once.

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.

Sinn Féin Upper Bann MLA John O’Dowd said the murder "has left the local community absolutely shocked".

"This is a very quiet area and people are appalled by what has happened", he added.

SDLP Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly also said the community was in shock.

"This is a quiet, settled village and people are appalled that violence has been brought on to their streets."

Alliance Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon councillor Eóin Tennyson condemned the killing and urged anyone with information to bring it to police.

Police last night confirmed they had launched a murder inquiry.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Montgomery said the father-of-three "was shot in cold blood in broad daylight".

Appealing to anyone who had information, including dashcam footage, the police chief said the investigation was at an early stage adding that detectives were keeping an open mind as to the motive.

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