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Sister of Lorraine McCausland who was raped and killed in Belfast loyalist club will never 'will never stop until she gets justice'

By Brett Campbell

Published 24/11/2016

Lorraine McCausland
Lorraine McCausland
Murder victim Lorraine McCausland's sister Cathy McIlvenny
The loyalist club at Tyndale where Lorraine was last seen

The sister of a young woman raped and murdered almost 30 years ago has vowed she will never stop fighting for justice.

Lorraine McCausland's partially clothed body was found beside a stream in north Belfast in March 1987.

Nobody has ever been charged with killing the 23-year-old mother-of-two.

Yesterday, detectives announced they had reopened an investigation into her murder.

Detective Inspector Michelle Griffin said a cold case review had identified "potential new lines of inquiry".

She added the "shadow of loyalist paramilitarism" hung over the case, but also expressed hopes that people would come forward with information.

Lorraine's family is also hopeful of a breakthrough after all these years.

In a direct appeal to her sister's killers, Cathy McIlvenny, said: "Come forward and clear your conscience.

"I'll never stop fighting until I get it (justice) for her. We have fought hard to get to this point."

Lorraine had been for a night out and was last seen in a loyalist club at Tyndale.

The loyalist club at Tyndale where Lorraine was last seen
The loyalist club at Tyndale where Lorraine was last seen
Murder victim Lorraine McCausland's sister Cathy McIlvenny

Police believe she was raped in the club before she was "savagely beaten" and dumped.

She was found beside a stream in Forthriver on March 8, 1987.

Despite 14 arrests during the original investigation, her killer has never been caught.

Further tragedy was to strike the family in future years.

Ms McCausland's son, who was two when she was killed, was murdered 18 years later.

Craig McCausland died after being shot in Dhu Varren Park in north Belfast in July 2005.

The police blamed the killing on tension within the loyalist movement.

Ms McIlvenny said the murder of Lorraine had devastated the whole family. "If I was living with something like that on my conscience... it could be something very small that you think isn't important but everything is important," she added.

Ms McIlvenny also thanked the PSNI for reopening the investigation and giving the family hope after 29 years.

She said: "Remember, this was not a paramilitary or Troubles-related murder - this was a sexual attack against a 23-year-old woman."

Detective Inspector Griffin described Lorraine's killing as the "merciless beating of a vulnerable young woman".

She added: "The murder has had a profound effect on her family. It would also have had a lasting impact on the people who witnessed these events some 29 years ago."

The detective confirmed that detectives have specific lines of inquiry, but she refused to reveal further details.

She said: "We have felt frustrated that we got so close to charging people involved in this rape and this murder, but we are just missing that last evidential link that will build the jigsaw puzzle and get us over the line.

"It is our assessment that Lorraine had been enjoying a night out with friends and then ended up in a loyalist drinking club at Tyndale.

"We believe she was raped in the club and later savagely beaten inside and outside the premises before her partially clothed body was dumped on open ground beside a nearby river."

Detectives working on the initial investigation conducted 29 searches and took more than 100 witness statements.

A total of 107 exhibits were submitted for forensic examination and 45 exhibits subjected to examination.

Now, the latest technology is being used to examine DNA evidence linked to the case.

Officers yesterday distributed leaflets in the local area to highlight the reopening of the investigation.

DI Griffin hopes that people who may previously have been fearful about coming forward will now consider doing so.

She said: "The shadow of loyalist paramilitarism hangs over this case.

"I believe people have been reluctant to tell the truth about that night, what they saw and heard, what they know, because they are frightened. I understand that fear."

The detective continued: "This was not a sectarian murder. There is no evidence that the UDA directed or sanctioned the murder, but we do believe they were members and close associates of the UDA."

One of the main suspects in the case was reportedly recruited as a police informant within weeks of Lorraine's body being discovered.

DI Griffin said: "It is police policy not to comment on any persons status as an informant."

Referring to previous reports relating to the murder, including a report conducted by the Historical Enquiries Team, she added: "None of those reports suggested that the reason nobody has gone to court is because of their status".

Anyone with information can contact detectives from Serious Crime Branch on the non-emergency 101 number. Those who wish to remain anonymous may contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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