Russian gun one of three handed over to killer

Makarov handgun of the type used to kill former IRA commander Jock Davison
Makarov handgun of the type used to kill former IRA commander Jock Davison

The weapon used in the daylight murder of former IRA commander Gerard 'Jock' Davison was one of three Makarov-style handguns brought into Northern Ireland from a batch smuggled from eastern Europe, it has emerged.

The Russian handguns, rarely seen in the north during the Troubles, are now common in the Republic where such weapons have been used in a series of shootings including the attempted murder of gangland boss John Gilligan.

Gilligan, who was linked to the 1996 killing of Dublin crime reporter Veronica Guerin, was shot four times in March last year at his brother's house in the Clondalkin area of Dublin. He survived the attack but fled Ireland shortly afterwards.

The PSNI believe the weapon used to kill Jock Davison in the Markets area of south Belfast in May was part of a batch brought into Dublin by eastern European criminals.

Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway said at the time: "The weapon is relatively unusual in Northern Ireland. They are more common in Dublin, so that's a definite line of enquiry. We are as a result working with gardaí on that."

The Irish News has learned that a Lithuanian gang, involved in both the smuggling of drugs and procurement of weapons, supplied three of the weapons and ammunition to a Belfast-based criminal who passed them on to be used in the grudge murder of Jock Davison.

The IRA man turned community worker was shot dead in Welsh Street as he walked to work. No one has been charged with his murder.

The gun used to kill him had no previous ballistics history, and neither it nor the other two weapons from the same batch have been recovered by police.

A leading suspect in the killing, Kevin McGuigan (53), was shot dead earlier this month in what was believed to be retaliation for IRA man's murder.

Himself a former IRA prisoner, the father-of-nine was widely believed to have been one of the founding members of Direct Action Against Drugs, a cover group responsible for the murder of around a dozen high-profile criminals in the late 1990s.