Kevin McGuigan murder: Police find keys which may have allowed killers to flee Short Strand alleyway
Detectives investigating the murder of Kevin McGuigan have made a major breakthrough by recovering two keys which may have been used to help his killers escape.
The gunmen, who shot dead Mr McGuigan outside his Short Strand home, escaped down a gated alleyway which is usually locked. However, on the night of the murder, the gates were open.
The PSNI has recovered two keys which sources say now form a "central part of the murder investigation". They are master keys which open every alley gate in Belfast so access to them is severely restricted.
The emergency services and council cleansing workers would be among the only groups to which these master keys should be allocated.
Each master key is numbered and anybody receiving one must register their name and details with Belfast City Council. The PSNI has visited City Hall to find out to whom the two numbered keys were registered.
When the log book was checked, it was discovered that one of the keys had been issued to a south Belfast community worker, and the second key had been issued to the PSNI itself. Sources told the Belfast Telegraph that the police officers seemed very embarrassed by the latter revelation.
Kevin McGuigan, a 53-year-old father of nine, was gunned down in front of his wife at their Comber Court home in August. No group has claimed responsibility but the police have said that IRA members were involved.
The discovery that keys issued by the council may have played a part in helping Kevin McGuigan's murderers escape has caused serious concern at City Hall with Ulster Unionist Councillor Graham Craig calling for an immediate security review.
Mr Craig said he was deeply concerned that the police were investigating keys given out by City Hall - however innocently - which may have been used by the killers of Kevin McGuigan.
He said: "I have written to the Council chief executive, Suzanne Wylie, on the matter. I am asking her to review the security issues which have come to light as a result of this very worrying development.
"The council must urgently review its policy regarding the allocation of master keys. This is a time for action, not words."
When asked for its response that two master keys issued by the council formed part of the McGuigan murder investigation, a council spokeswoman said: "We have no comment to make when an ongoing police investigation is taking place."
A PSNI spokeswoman also declined to comment on the breakthrough.
"It would be inappropriate to disclose details of an ongoing murder investigation," she said.
Kevin McGuigan's murder was in retaliation for that of the IRA's former Belfast Brigade commander, Jock Davison, who was shot dead two months earlier. The Provos believed McGuigan was the gunman who killed Davison.
Mr McGuigan was getting out of his car around 9pm on August 12 when two black-clad gunmen ran towards him. The father-of-nine was shot as he walked towards his front gate. When he fell down, his assassins stood over him firing repeatedly.
The gunmen then ran out of the cul-de-sac where the McGuigans lived and escaped down the gated alleyway which, that night, unusually was open.
Mr McGuigan's wife Dolores was hysterical. "He's dead, they've killed him, he's dead. My Kevin's dead, they've got him!" she screamed.
Mr McGuigan lost a lot of blood at the scene but he was still breathing as neighbours came to his aid. He later died in hospital.