Belfast Telegraph

Dangerous fugitive Kieran McLaughlin being sheltered: manhunt police

BY DONNA DEENEY

Police believe that the man they are hunting after a horrific murder last week is being harboured by someone – even though he is a potential danger to the public.

A manhunt is under way for Kieran McLaughlin, who is believed to have a 'hit list' of people and who have been warned by police about their safety.

Barry McCrory (35) was gunned down by a lone assailant last Thursday in a flat in Londonderry city centre. He died at the scene and within hours police began searching for McLaughlin in connection to the murder.

There is fear in the community that almost one week after Mr McCrory's murder, McLaughlin remains at large – despite police drafting almost 100 officers, half of them from other parts of Northern Ireland, and assistance from the Garda in Donegal.

The former republican prisoner was jailed in 2001 for possessing guns and ammunition.

As each day passes people living in the parts of Derry where McLaughlin could be seeking sanctuary are increasingly nervous and are at a loss as to how one man of advanced years in a relatively small city has managed to go undetected for so long.

This level of nervousness increased after a number of people were advised by police that their personal safety could be at risk as well.

A man from the Creggan area of the city, who was stabbed in the neck two days before Mr McCrory was murdered, is believed to be among the potential targets.

Chief Inspector Jon Burrows said: "We have discussed with a number of people in the city their security in relation to this case and we are managing these risks at the moment.

"We need to recover the gun used in this murder and we need to locate Mr McLaughlin and I would like to remind people that it is a very serious offence to harbour or assist someone who is wanted for a serious crime.

"Experience would suggest that when somebody is hiding from the police, invariably they get some kind of support because it is difficult to do that on your own.

"I would like to say to people, if you are in that position, you need to give us that information, the penalties for assisting an offender or obstructing a police investigation are quite severe and lead to many years in prison."

As the manhunt approaches a second week, a number of appeals from his family, police and politicians have been fruitless.

Chief Inspector Burrows said a large team, including a 50-strong Technical Support Group, has been drafted in to work on Mr McCrory's murder case and the search for Mr McLaughlin.

He continued: "We are as frustrated as the public, if not more so. This is a very, very substantial investigation and a lot of extra officers are on patrol every single day to reassure the public and to locate Mr McLaughlin.

"The fact that we took the unusual step of releasing Mr McLaughlin's name and photograph to the public reflects the concern we have that there is a risk to the public safety.

"We have drafted in our own officers on their rest days and they are working extended shifts.

"The Neighbourhood policing teams are working 24/7 in their local areas affected and we have brought in two Technical Support Groups from other parts of Northern Ireland – that's 50 officers on patrol at any one time trying to locate Mr McLaughlin and also protecting the public from any risk.

"We need to get hold of this man, we need to recover the gun used in this murder and I would appeal to the public to give us the information we need."

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