A convicted terrorist at the centre of a major cross-border manhunt has been urged by his own family to give himself up.
PSNI and Gardai officers are still searching for 58-year-old fugitive Kieran McLaughlin as the murder investigation he is wanted over enters its fifth day.
McLaughlin is wanted in connection with the murder of Barry McCrory (35) who was shot in the head – believed to be four times – in his Shipquay Street apartment area of Londonderry on Thursday. Officers believed they had closed in on McLaughlin – known for dissident republican links to the Real IRA – during an operation lasting over 10 hours on Friday in Burnfoot area of Donegal, close to the border. But no arrests were made and the suspect remained at large last night.
Police said at the weekend there have been a number of reported sightings of McLaughlin in the Derry area.
The SDLP's Pat Ramsey, who has spoken to the suspect's family, said they want him to hand himself in to police.
A number of fresh allegations have been made about the convicted terrorist. According to newspaper reports, McLaughlin:
- told McCrory's partner he was going to get a 'knee-capping' but he was shot four times in the head instead;
- is believed to be armed and has a list of intended targets;
- is thought to be back in Derry after slipping through a police cordon in Donegal on Friday night;
- was behind the stabbing of a man in the Creggan area of Derry last Tuesday.
It is understood the first indication that sparked concerns about McLaughlin was an incident last Tuesday morning – two days before Mr McCrory was killed.
McLaughlin allegedly arrived at the Rathkeele Way house armed with a knife and searching for a man to confront.
It is reported the man he wanted was not there but a row erupted with two people.
It was then that a 46-year-old man was stabbed in the hand.
However the police have been unable to confirm this.
Following the shooting of Mr McCrory, PSNI officers took the unusual step of releasing a photo of McLaughlin, warning the public not to approach him.
Acting on a tip-off of his location dozens of Gardai, including armed members of the Emergency Response Unit, surrounded a house in Burnfoot on the Inishowen Peninsula on Friday.
The property was searched overnight before road blocks were lifted, after it was believed to have been found empty.
"The operation was stood down at 4am and no arrests were made," a Garda spokesman said.
On Saturday afternoon police were spotted carrying out searches in the Ballymagroarty and Hazelbank areas.
A PSNI spokeswoman yesterday confirmed officers from the Republic were still assisting in the cross-border operation.
But they are continuing to warn the public about McLaughlin and said they still want to talk to a man in connection with the murder.
"We are continuing to appeal to the public for their assistance in establishing the current whereabouts of 58-year-old Kieran McLaughlin. I can confirm there have been a number of sightings of Mr McLaughlin in the Derry area but it is imperative that future sightings of Kieran are reported to police immediately and we repeat, do not approach him, but contact police on 0845 600 8000 if you think you know of his whereabouts. I would also emphasise to Kieran to contact police immediately as we are actively seeking to speak with you."
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison