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Man arrested over paramilitary-style murder in Belfast

Published 17/04/2016

Detective Superintendent John McVea confirmed the suspect was arrested on suspicion of murder
Detective Superintendent John McVea confirmed the suspect was arrested on suspicion of murder

Detectives investigating the paramilitary-style murder of a man in Northern Ireland have arrested a suspect.

The 34-year-old man is being quizzed about the shooting of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon in north Belfast over the weekend.

The victim, 33, was shot several times in the leg in an alleyway on Friday night in the predominantly nationalist and republican Ardoyne area.

His wife Joanne, a nurse, tried to save him before he was taken to the city's Royal Victoria Hospital where he later died after undergoing surgery.

Detective Superintendent John McVea confirmed the suspect was arrested on suspicion of murder.

"He will be questioned at Musgrave police station in Belfast," he added.

Two young men dressed in hoodies and baseball caps called at Mr McGibbon's house in the Crumlin Road area, close to where he was shot, the night before he was attacked and demanded he come out to meet them.

But he refused to do so and reported the incident to police the next morning.

Investigators said it was too early to say if Mr McGibbon went to the alleyway later that day by appointment for a beating.

He was blasted three times in the leg at Butler Place shortly after 10pm on Friday.

Mr McVea said the killing had all the hallmarks of a paramilitary-style murder that "robbed a family of a treasured husband and father".

He added that the victim had no criminal convictions and "no apparent criminal connections or associations".

The elder of the men who went to his house was described by detectives as aged in his early twenties with a slim build and wearing a red hoodie, a baseball cap and a scarf over his face.

The second was described as in his late teens, wearing a grey hoodie, a baseball cap and a scarf over his face.

Mr McVea said: "I am also aware that other people in the area may also have been visited in a similar manner in recent days and I am asking for these people to make contact with police."

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said: "This callous and shocking murder appears to have the hallmarks of the paramilitary-style assaults which too often ruin lives and scar Northern Ireland. My sympathy is with Mr McGibbon's young family."

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said the killing has shocked the local community in north Belfast.

"This is the second such killing carried out in this area in the last six months by an armed gang which is clearly at war with the local community," he added.

Nichola Mallon, SDLP councillor for the area, said the community had been left "reeling".

"North Belfast has shouldered this kind of savagery in the past. There can be no justification for it. It was wrong then and it is wrong today," she said.

Nuala McAllister, Alliance Party councillor for North Belfast, said: "Our entire community must unite against those who seek to drag us back to the bloody days of the past."

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