Northern Ireland

PSNI 'had information about a gun' two weeks before Gerard 'Jock' Davison murder

Gerard 'Jock' Davison was murdered in May 2015
Gerard 'Jock' Davison was murdered in May 2015

POLICE had information suggesting there was a gun at an address in the Markets area of Belfast two weeks before senior republican Gerard 'Jock' Davison was shot dead in the area.

The Irish News has learned that disciplinary proceedings were recommended by the Police Ombudsman after an investigation found that "police failed to take proper and appropriate action" after receiving the anonymous tip off.

Mr Davison (47), a former IRA commander turned community worker, was shot dead in May 2015 as he walked to work in the Lower Stanfield Street.

His murder was widely believed to have been carried out by former IRA hitman Kevin McGuigan.

McGuigan, who was linked to multiple murders in the late 1990s under the cover name of Direct Action Against Drugs, was himself shot dead four months later outside his Short Strand home.

Police said IRA members were involved but it had no evidence that the murder was sanctioned by the organisation.

His killing caused a crisis in the political process, with unionists threatening to withdraw from the Stormont executive.

Analysis: Family of Gerard 'Jock' Davison left with unanswered questions

The gun used to murder Mr Davison was part of a shipment smuggled into Dublin by an international crime gang.

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

The Marakov handgun had no previous ballistics history, but was part of a batch used in numerous gangland killings linked to the Kinahan drug cartel.

Friends say that Mr Davison, who was chairman of the Market Development Association, believed his movements were being monitored by McGuigan after the pair had a bitter fall-out several years previously.

Shortly after the murder, the Police Ombudsman's contacted his father Jimmy Davison and said they were conducting an investigation after a referral by then Chief Constable George Hamilton.

Read More: Gun used in Jock Davison murder widely available in north

It related to "an alleged failure by police to deal appropriately with anonymous information which suggested that a gun was being stored at a specific address in the Markets area of south Belfast", with the information received "two weeks before the death of your son, Gerard, in the same area".

Mr Davison has now been told the investigation found that police "failed to take proper and appropriate action", with the findings stemming from a "failure to properly progress an intelligence submission".

The ombudsman's office added that it was not possible to establish if there ever was a gun at the address and if so, whether it had any connection to the murder.

"However, the Police Ombudsman's investigation found no evidence that the failure to properly progress the anonymous information was a deliberate or malicious act on the part of any police officers."

A misconduct report was submitted to the PSNI recommending disciplinary proceedings which police were said to have "actioned accordingly".

Recommendations were also made around retraining and changes to IT systems and processes.

Kevin McGuigan was shot dead in August 2015
Kevin McGuigan was shot dead in August 2015

Police were last night asked to comment on the investigation and Superintendent Jon Burrows said: “As is normal procedure with any report received from the Office of the Police Ombudsman for NI, we carefully consider the findings and disciplinary recommendations and take action where appropriate.”

However, Mr Davison's solicitor Philip Breen, of Breen, Rankin, Lenzi, said the ombudsman findings raise further questions.

"We have asked if any of the officers involved in this investigation had anything to do with the police investigation into the murder of our client's son," he said.

"We would also like to know whether there was a cross over in relation to police departments - was the Serious Crime Department at Musgrave Street police station involved in this latter complaint as they were undoubtedly involved in the investigations of our client's son's murder?

"Did police carry out any searches and forensic examination of the 'specific address' after our client's son's murder? Were there any arrests of people from this address after Mr Davison's murder?

"Why did police fail to take proper and appropriate action after receiving this anonymous information?

"Rather than bring closure to our client and his family, this raises more questions and we will be forwarding the ombudsman's findings and our resulting questions to the Coroner's Office as part of a renewed request for an inquest into the murder of Gerard Davison."