Police issue fresh appeal for information over murder of Brian McIlhagga

DETECTIVES have issued a fresh appeal for information on the second anniversary of the savage murder f Brian McIlhagga.

The 42-year-old was beaten and shot by a gang of masked UDA men in Ballymoney.

The father-of-five was dragged from a house in the Riverview Park area of the town shortly before 10.30 pm on January 5, 2015.

Mr McIlhagga was shot in both legs outside the house and died at the scene.

Four children were in the house at the time and a 33-year-old woman who lived at the property was also assaulted.

Detectives say the attackers are believed to have made off along a walk way running along Riverview Park in the direction of Ballymoney train station.

The victim was from Ballymena and was a plasterer by trade.

He was a friend of the woman who lived in the house and had been a visitor in the months leading up to the attack.

There have been 12 arrests connected to the murder, but as yet, no-one has been charged. The investigation is ongoing.

The senior police officer heading up the murder probe,┬áDetective Chief Inspector Michael Harvey said: “We are continuing in our efforts to bring those responsible for this heinous crime to justice and I would ask that anyone with information, no matter how small, comes forward to police.

“We are in no doubt that there are a number of people in the community who know the identity of those involved in Brian’s murder and I would urge them to look to their consciences.

“I ask them to place themselves in the shoes of those young children in the house that night – three of them all under the age of 13 were upstairs and there was a 13 year-old downstairs in the living room – when four masked and armed individuals came in through the front door.

“Brian was then viciously and brutally assaulted in the kitchen.

“These young children heard his screams of terror and pain while the violent injuries were being inflicted.

“That is going to affect them for the rest of their lives. The 13 year-old would also have had some sight of Brian lying injured in the front garden”.

DCI Harvey added, “There was certainly paramilitary involvement in this attack but another line of enquiry is that there may well have been some sort of personal grudge also”.

He warned that as long as those responsible for this attack remain at large, they represent a possible threat to anyone in the north Antrim area even though it is a largely peaceful community.

“This is a very challenging and complex investigation.

“I believe we have identified a number of the suspects who attacked Brian and I believe we have identified a group of other individuals who were on the periphery of that attack.

“I would appeal to all members of the community, to anyone with any information, to come forward and help us to bridge that evidential gap, to cross that line and place those people before the courts.

“It is important for people to come forward. Nothing justifies this murder in any way whatsoever.

“People know who was involved. People know where they went afterwards. They haven’t come forward. They are protecting those killers.

“I would appeal to those with information, no matter how small, to contact detectives at Maydown on 101 or, if you do not wish to provide your details, please use the independent Crimestoppers charity number 0800 555 111.”

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