Police seize McGuigan alibi evidence months after murder of Jock
Four months after the killing of ex-IRA commander Gerard 'Jock' Davison, the PSNI has just seized a potentially major piece of evidence in the murder investigation.
Police removed a register from the gym at the Dockers' Club in Belfast's Pilot Street on Tuesday which members must use to sign in and out.
Ex-republican prisoner Kevin McGuigan, who was shot dead by IRA members a fortnight ago, had told the police and the Provos that he was in the gym at the time of Davison's murder.
The IRA believed that McGuigan (53) murdered Davison in revenge for a punishment attack the IRA commander had inflicted on him over a decade earlier.
Another gym member, who is a veteran Belfast republican from the 1970s, verified McGuigan's alibi and said he had been with him in the gym on the morning of Davison's murder.
The ex-IRA man, who once ran the organisation's finance department, is well respected in republican circles.
He helped set up the Felons Club in the New Lodge area of north Belfast.
Doubts still remained about the exact time McGuigan had arrived and left the gym in Pilot Street.
Gym users told the Belfast Telegraph they were stunned that the police hadn't seized the gym register long before now.
"To be coming for something so vital to the murder investigation four months later seems very odd," one man said.
"Taking the register earlier could possibly have cleared Kevin's name and saved his life if it had proved he couldn't have shot Jock."
When asked if officers had removed the register, a PSNI spokeswoman would only say that police had been "conducting inquiries into serious crime in the Pilot Street area of Belfast". She said no searches had been carried out.
The gym user also expressed surprise that detectives hadn't seized the gym's CCTV tapes.
"The police said on Tuesday that they might be back for that but I fear they've left it too late," he said.
"I think recordings from the day Jock was murdered could well have been wiped because it's so long ago and nobody knew to keep them."
The man said that several weeks after Davison's murder, suspicions were raised about a car with two men in the gym car park.
"A taxi driver who was also there was so alarmed that they were up to something that he locked them in."
He added: "They asked him to open the gate and when he wouldn't they revealed they were plain-clothes police and showed their ID."
The man said McGuigan had trained in the gym at least five times a week: "He came in and did his bit and left. He never talked about Jock or the IRA.
"The only time I heard him talk about the Provos was when Robert McCartney was killed and he called them b*****ds.
"I never saw him angry, cheeky or aggressive. Kevin was a real gentleman."