Belfast Telegraph

Facial mapping bid to unmask gunman in funeral salute in Belfast

By Chris Kilpatrick

Police are examining images of a masked gunman who was pictured firing shots over a coffin during a funeral in west Belfast.

Investigators are set to use cutting-edge facial mapping technology in an attempt to digitally unmask and identify the gunman.

Liam Mulhern from west Belfast collapsed at Maghaberry Prison on Monday of last week and died in hospital last Thursday.

Images appeared on social media which showed a gunman firing shots over his open coffin as other masked men saluted.

It happened on Monday in the Lagmore area of Dunmurry, on the outskirts of west Belfast.

Police yesterday confirmed an investigation is under way into the paramilitary display at the funeral.

Chief Inspector Anthony McNally said: "We are aware of the photograph on social media and will investigate this."

Alliance MLA and Policing Board member Trevor Lunn said images of gunmen on the streets of Northern Ireland should be consigned to the past.

He said: "Guns have no place on our streets.

"I am deeply concerned by this apparent paramilitary show of strength.

"The police must investigate this incident and seek to prosecute those who were involved with this paramilitary display.

"I am disgusted that there are still those who would seek to intimidate and create fear in the community.

"If anybody has any information about this incident then I would urge them to get in contact with the police."

DUP MLA William Humphrey said the so-called show of strength was intended to intimidate.

Mulhern had been serving a prison sentence for armed robbery and had dissident republican connections.

The PSNI and Prison Ombudsman are investigating his death. It is understood Mulhern had a series of health problems.

Facial mapping is the latest weapon used in Northern Ireland to identify paramilitaries.

Last year it led to two convictions, with 150 paramilitary-style attacks currently being re-investigated with the aid of the technology.

The technology is currently being used by the FBI and British intelligence in an effort to identify as Islamic State fanatic known as 'Jihadi John'.

The PSNI recently said facial mapping technology could lead to dozens of those responsible for previous paramilitary-style shootings and assaults throughout Northern Ireland being brought to justice.

Specialists within the force examined images from the funeral of IRA murderer Tony Catney in west Belfast last August to help them identify potential dissident republicans.

Background

Last year facial mapping was used to identify a man wearing a balaclava and who was a flag bearer during a dissident parade. Patrick John McDaid, from Londonderry, was given a suspended prison sentence after being found to have managed a meeting in support of the IRA. It was also used to jail Tiernan Porter (21) for three years in relation to a paramilitary-style shooting in west Belfast. Around 150 paramilitary-style attacks are being re-investigated by the PSNI.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph