Belfast Telegraph

Laurence Shaw's brother says he was 'killed like an animal'

By Victoria Leonard

The grieving family of Larne murder victim Laurence 'Lornie' Shaw say they are struggling to accept that their beloved brother was brutally "killed like an animal".

Margaret Shaw (55) said she had "collapsed" on hearing the news that her elder brother had died after having his throat cut in his home in the town's Seacourt estate.

She also revealed that Laurence's remaining five siblings are shielding details of his death from their frail 81-year-old mother, Margaret, who suffers from dementia and lives in a care home, amid fears the trauma "could kill her".

The body of 56-year-old Laurence was discovered inside his home in Hillmount Gardens at around 1.30pm on Monday afternoon.

There had been a fire at the house, which his brother John believed was an attempted arson attack.

Police have launched a murder investigation into the death, with a post-mortem due to be carried out today to determine the cause.

A 39-year-old man who was arrested in the early hours of yesterday on suspicion of murder remains in police custody.

Laurence's younger sister, Margaret, who lives in Farnham in Surrey but yesterday returned to her home town to be with her family, said she had broken down upon hearing of her brother's death.

"When I heard, I was completely hysterical, I just collapsed," she said. "I'm completely and utterly devastated.

"I thought it was due to his health as he had a heart problem, but then to hear he was murdered so brutally doesn't seem like reality.

"Of all the ways to go, this is one of the most devastating. Laurence was my big brother as he was a year older, but I called him my little brother as I was protective of him, we were so close.

"He was my best friend as well as my brother."

As she arrived back in the coastal town where the seven Shaw siblings were raised, Margaret recalled the last time she had seen her brother.

"I would come over every six weeks to two months, and the last time I saw him in August he was great, as good as gold," she recalled. "We are a close-knit family, we were in contact with him all the time and the children are taking this very hard. Now we are just waiting for more details from the police and for the results of the post-mortem."

Laurence's death is the latest tragedy to hit the Shaw family in recent years.

In 1993, their uncle Robert Shaw, a father-of-four from the Roddens area of Larne, was murdered by the UDA as he sat in his van near the shore of Belfast Lough at Whiteabbey. He had driven there to collect fishing bait.

Laurence and John also lost their eldest brother, Francis, in a car crash in 1978, when he was just 19.

"Our family has really had it hard," Margaret said.

"My mother, who is also called Margaret, is in a care home with dementia. Laurence had been living in her home.

"She is very frail and she wouldn't understand what has happened, so we have decided we are not going to tell her. The shock of it would kill her.

"We are so sad and depressed for her. She has already lost one son, Francis, who was her first-born.

"When the phone rang to tell me of a death in the family, I thought it was about my mum, but it was about my older brother."

John Shaw said he was also struggling to come to terms with what had happened.

"My brother has been killed like an animal," he said. "I'm just getting my head around it.

"A police liaison officer spoke to me on Monday but I didn't know that anyone had been arrested for murder until a lorry driver phoned me up.

"We are hearing the details through the press, we haven't been kept well-informed."

Mid and East Antrim Sinn Fein councillor James McKeown, who grew up near the Shaw family on Larne's Antiville estate, said the brutality of the killing continued to send shockwaves throughout the community.

"Laurence was popular and well-known, he was at the heart of the community and he will be missed," he said.

"Nobody deserves to die like this. In addition to the deaths of their uncle Robert and brother Francis, their father also died at a fairly young age due to a bad heart. They didn't need this."

Police are continuing to appeal for information about the murder. Detective Chief Inspector Geoffrey Boyce said: "Laurence was last seen alive on the afternoon of Sunday, October 8, and we are particularly keen to hear from anyone who may have seen him or spoken with him on this date.

"We would also like to hear from anyone who may have witnessed any persons entering or leaving Laurence's house since Sunday afternoon or who may have any information which may assist us with our investigation."

Anyone with any information can contact police on 101 quoting reference number 687 09/10/17.

The PSNI had not responded to a request for a comment about how information was being passed to the Shaw family at the time of going to press.

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