Northern Ireland

Murder victim Kieran Wylie had been threatened previously

Police officers search the area while police forensic experts examine the murder scene in the Lenadoon area of west Belfast following the murder of Kieran Wylie
Police officers search the area while police forensic experts examine the murder scene in the Lenadoon area of west Belfast following the murder of Kieran Wylie

POLICE are investigating a potential dissident republican link to the murder of a man in west Belfast.

Former pub doorman Kieran Wylie was shot dead by two men at a house in Lenadoon Avenue on Sunday night.

Originally from Turf Lodge, the 57-year-old had previously been warned by the PSNI that there was a threat to his life.

Graffiti making allegations about him had also appeared on walls close to his home.

Mr Wylie, who was known to police, had previously been involved with the dissident republican organisation Oglaigh na hEireann ONH, however, had parted ways with the group in recent months.

Two gunmen forced their way into Mr Wylie's home shortly after 10pm on Sunday night, the victim was shot several times at close range.

His two daughters aged 16 and 28 witnessed the killing and are said to be "traumatised".

Following the attack family members raised the alarm and neighbours attempted to give first aid to Mr Wylie using a defibrillator from a nearby commercial premises, but he was declared dead at the scene.

Forensic officers conducted finger tips searches of the crime scene yesterday. Residents living in the area were also asked to check dashcam and CCTV footage for anything that may be of use to police.

Relatives also arrived to lay flowers at the scene.

CCTV footage from the victim's house is being examined and is expected to form a major part of the investigation.

While the weapon used has not been recovered. However are examining ballistics evidence obtained from the scene to see if the gun had been used in previous shootings.

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Darren McCartney said: "My investigation into his murder is at a very early stage and I am continuing to make enquiries into events leading up to the shooting.

"Mr Wylie was previously informed that he was under threat.

“This was a brutal killing and I believe Kieran was shot a number of times at close range.

“It is too early to be sure about the motive for his murder and at this stage I am keeping an open mind."

He added that dissident republican involvement was "certainly one of the lines of inquiry."

"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.

"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.

"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."

Stormont Justice Minister Naomi Long offered "deepest sympathies to the family".

"There is no place for the gun in our society and those responsible for this appalling crime have left a family grieving and a community in shock.

"Our first responders are dealing with an unprecedented health emergency and are trying to protect and save lives.

"It is beyond comprehension why anyone would divert them from those lifesaving duties at this or any other time."

West Belfast MP Paul Maskey said people were "shocked and angry that anyone would carry out an attack like this when the community and the emergency services are facing the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic".

"Those involved in this act have absolutely no place in our community, they must cease their anti-community activities and get off the back of the people of west Belfast," hes said.

"I condemn those responsible and they must be brought before the courts."

SDLP West Belfast councillor Brian Heading said anyone with information should bring it to police.

"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.

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