Northern Ireland news

Man (57) murdered in west Belfast 'shot in front of daughters'

Police at the scene of a murder at Lenadoon Avenue in west Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann
Digital Staff

A man murdered in west Belfast last night was shot at close range in front of his two daughters.

Police said Kieran Wylie (57) had been warned he was "under threat" from dissident republicans.

His daughters, aged 16 and 28, witnessed the killing at a house in Lenadoon Avenue at around 10pm yesterday.

Police believe two gunmen were involved.

Officers launched a murder inquiry after Mr Wylie was pronounced dead at the scene.

The gun used in the murder has not yet been found.

Detective Chief Inspector Darren McCartney said his thoughts were with Mr Wylie's family, including his children.

"Certainly one of the lines of inquiry we are investigating is that there is a violent dissident republican motive towards this murder," he said.

The detective said Mr Wylie was known to police. He said the victim had also been previously informed that he was "under threat".

Mr McCartney said the murder had been witnessed by two of Mr Wylie's children - his 16 and 28-year-old daughters.

"The lifelong effect of what they witnessed last night are unimaginable," he said.

Earlier, Mr McCartney said: "This was a brutal killing and I believe Kieran was shot a number of times at close range."

He said Mr Wylie's neighbours tried to help him after he was shot.

"I would appeal to anyone who was in the area of Lenadoon Avenue last night, between 9pm and 11pm to contact detectives at Ladas Drive. 

"We are particularly keen to recover CCTV, mobile phone and dash cam footage from the Lenadoon area last night and we want to speak to anyone who has any information about the incident or the events leading up to it.

“Later today, I will make the Major Incident Public Portal available, which can be accessed at https://mipp.police.uk. It can be accessed from any device with internet access and videos and images can be uploaded onto it.

“Those involved in this murder selfishly gave no thought to the impact on frontline emergency services who are already working hard to keep people safe during this global pandemic with an already stretched resource. 

"They also showed a complete disregard for the community.

“Those involved in this appalling murder offer nothing to the local community and need to be brought to justice. 

"Nothing justifies killing another person and the recovery of the gun that was used in last night’s murder is a key line of enquiry for me."

First Minister Arlene Foster said she was appalled by the brutal murder.

She began the Executive's daily Covid-19 briefing this afternoon by saying: "I would like to start today's press conference by expressing my revulsion at the shooting of Kieran Wylie in west Belfast last night.

"At a time when we are trying to protect ourselves from the invisible threat of Covid-19 and our emergency services are working hard to deal with people's concerns, it is particularly reprehensible that some people can callously take a person's life and we urge anyone with any information that can help identify those responsible to assist the police with their investigation."

Earlier, West Belfast MP Paul Maskey tweeted: "Local people are angry this attack has been carried out when the community & emergency services are facing the Covid-19 pandemic".

Mr Maskey added his "thoughts are with the man's family".

SDLP West Belfast councillor Brian Heading said: "Those responsible for this senseless and cruel murder are thugs who need to get their foot off the neck of the community in west Belfast". 

"They weren’t wanted in the past and they aren’t wanted now, particularly when our emergency services are working so hard to protect people from the impact of Covid-19," he said.

“The local community is in shock this morning. Those responsible need to be caught and face justice for what they’ve done.

“I would encourage anyone with information to bring it to the PSNI.”

Police have asked that those with information, or who may have witnessed suspicious activity in the area, contact detectives by calling 101 and quoting reference number 1589 of 17/05/20 or anonymously via Crimestoppers.

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