A friend of a loyalist double killer who burned himself to death in an apparent fireball suicide near a seaside village has paid tribute to him.
Billy Hunter apparently took his own life near Millisle on Friday morning after dousing himself in petrol and setting his body alight.
He was taken to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald but later died.
The 55-year-old was given a double life sentence for his part in the murders of Catholic brothers John and Thomas McErlane in 1975.
Mr Hunter was in the headlines in 2010 when he was sacked from his job as a till operator at Asda after telling a driver he should play The Sash instead of pop music in his delivery van.
He was later reinstated after four days of protests at the chain’s Shore Road store in north Belfast.
Yesterday, a series of floral tributes were left on railings outside the store, alongside a Union flag and a Glasgow Rangers football top.
One message, from a close friend, described Mr Hunter as “the kindest, most thoughtful, generous person” she had met.
“You made this world a brighter place just by being in it,” she wrote. “A light has gone out Billy now you are gone.”
It added: “No-one I have ever met can compare and there is not a person here today that could say a bad word about you.”
Mr Hunter set himself alight on the Ballywalter Road outside Millisle, before walking in front of an oncoming car.
One witness described how the shocked driver swerved and managed to avoid hitting the burning man.
A passer-by doused the flames before taking Mr Hunter to the Ulster Hospital.
He was treated for severe burns and smoke inhalation, but later passed away.
Mr Hunter was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of the McErlane brothers.
John (29) and Thomas (19) were shot twice in the back of the head in 1975 while playing cards with Protestant work colleagues at a flat in Mount Vernon.
Two gunmen burst into the flat and ordered everyone to lie on the floor. The two brothers were shot as they lay on the ground. The murders were claimed by the Protestant Action Force, a cover name for the UVF.
Mr Hunter was sentenced to life for what the trial judge described as “a dastardly act”, but was freed 14 years later.
During the trial it emerged he and others had spent months trying to lure the victims to Mount Vernon.
Mr Hunter caused controversy after being sacked by Asda. He was later given his job back after expressing regret for the offence caused by comments about The Sash.
Police said they were investigating the circumstances of Mr Hunter’s death.
Billy Hunter was a double murderer who caused huge controversy when he was sacked by Asda — and then reinstated — after comments made to a delivery driver.
More than 100 people demonstrated for four nights outside the Asda store on the Shore Road after Mr Hunter, from the nearby Mount Vernon estate, was sacked in July 2010.