Belfast Telegraph

Family's appeal to murder suspect

The family of an on-the-run suspect wanted in connection with a murder in Londonderry have said he should give himself up.

The detective leading the hunt for Kieran McLaughlin said the 58-year-old's children were distressed by his disappearance and had called for him to contact the authorities.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison said: "The McLaughlin family are supporting the police appeal.

"I have spoken directly to the wider family and to be honest they are in bits. It is causing a great deal of distress to them. They want their father returned safely and that is our intention as well."

Members of the public have been warned not to approach Mr McLaughlin.

Police want to question him about the death of Barry McCrory, 35, who was gunned down in a flat in Derry city centre last Thursday morning. His partner, who was in the Shipquay Street property at the time, was bundled into another room by the lone killer before the fatal shots were fired.

The killing came less than 24 hours after Kevin Kearney, 45, was shot dead in a Belfast park.

Both victims were known to police for previous offending and the finger of blame has been pointed at dissident republican extremists opposed to the peace process.

There were unconfirmed sightings of Mr McLaughlin in Derry at the weekend and a major operation was mounted just five miles south of the border after claims that he was holed up in a house in Co Donegal on Friday night.

In an unusual move, DCI Harrison issued a direct appeal to Mr McLaughlin.

He said: "We are not pre-judging you but, we would like you to make contact with the police immediately.

"This whole incident has caused a significant degree of concern within the local community and we have been liaising closely with Mr McLaughlin's family. They wish to see this come to a successful conclusion and that is our wish also."

It is understood specialist officers have been drafted in to help locate Mr McLaughlin and a dedicated phone line has been set up for him or anyone who knows of his whereabouts to contact.

Mr Harrison added: "Extensive resources have been deployed in the city. The local community will have seen a significant build up of police resources in the last few days. Those resources are trained officers and as I say to you Mr McLaughlin tonight they can facilitate your ease of passage into the police station.

"I have concerns that an individual has lost his life and potentially there is a firearm on the streets of Derry tonight. Any firearm causes risk to the wider public and therefore that is why we want to remove that risk tonight."

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