Sinister threat to loyalist mob murder witness

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The Independent Online

One of the main witnesses to the murder of Catholic Kevin McDaid in Northern Ireland has been warned by police that his life is under threat, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Peter Neill, who was also injured during a night of sectarian violence in Coleraine after a loyalist mob invaded a mainly Catholic area, said he has received a death threat from a loyalist group.

Mr Neill is one of the main police witnesses in the case against a number of men charged in connection with the murder and the attempted murder of Damien Fleming.

“I have been told my life is under threat because I gave evidence to police. I know they want me dead. They have wanted me dead for a long time. I will not let them intimidate me,” said Mr Neill.

A police spokesman said: “When we believe someone needs to review their personal security we inform them immediately.”

Mr McDaid’s son Ryan has also been warned his life is under threat. The 22-year-old, who was informed about the threat against him last week, said he will not be intimidated by the threats.

Mr McDaid, a 49-year-old father-of-four, died of a heart attack after being beaten and kicked by a loyalist mob.

Eight men have been charged in connection with the murder and attempted murder. A ninth man has been charged with affray.

A 34 year-old man remained in custody last night after being arrested yesterday in relation to the attacks.

Mr McDaid’s friend and neighbour Damien Fleming remains in a critical condition in hospital after he was also attacked when the mob invaded the Heights estate after Rangers pipped Celtic to the Scottish Premier League title.

It is understood the loyalist group entered the area to rip down a number of Irish tricolours that had been erected by some youths. In a bid to prevent trouble police officers had been in negotiations with both the loyalist and republican communities before violence erupted.

Speaking after the murder, Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie said: “It is vital that everyone continues to work to ensure such brutal sectarian attacks are confined to the past. We owe it to Kevin's memory to ensure this happens.”

Tensions remain high in the area with many people saying they are concerned there will be a backlash from loyalists.

This article is from The Belfast Telegraph