Hitman shot Gerard 'Jock' Davison four times in the face - then walked away calmly
Exclusive inside story of murder in the Markets: Police believe IRA chief was murdered in revenge for killing drug dealers
IRA chief Jock Davison was shot in the back and then blasted four times in the face by a professional hitman.
Detectives believe criminals paid for the murder in revenge for the top Provo’s role in Direct Action Against Drugs (DAAD) which killed nine drug dealers during the 1990s.
Davison, 47, was buried yesterday in the republican plot at Milltown Cemetery in Belfast after a huge funeral on the Falls Road.
His coffin, draped in a tricolour and with gloves and beret, left his home on Friendly Street in the Markets area of south Belfast at around 11.30am.
A lone piper led more than 1,000 mourners who included top republicans Eddie Copeland, Bobby Storey and Sean ‘Spike’ Murray, and Sinn Fein politicians Gerry Kelly and Alex Maskey.
A special Sunday Life investigation into the Davison murder has unearthed startling and previously unheard details that include:
- Paranoid IRA bosses have no idea who was behind the killing and fear similar revenge attacks;
- Davison was shot in the back and then blasted four times in the face in a shooting that had all the hallmarks of a professional ‘grudge’ hit;
- The killer escaped from the Markets area on foot — there was no getaway vehicle;
- Detectives are checking CCTV footage from Central Station to investigate the possibility the hitman travelled from Dublin;
- More than 50 cops working on the case are focusing on historic IRA murders Davison was involved in to identify possible killers;
- A man arrested then released is related to Davison.
Jock Davison — a former IRA ‘OC’ for Belfast — was shot dead at the junction of Lower Stanfield Street and Welsh Street in the Markets area of the city last Tuesday morning.
He was gunned down around 9am after picking up his morning paper — a routine that he followed most days.
Sunday Life can reveal the killer, who stands between 5ft 2in and 5ft 6in tall and who was wearing a black waist-length hooded rain jacket, waited patiently in a side alley on Davison to arrive.
When the republican walked by he followed behind him, calmly shooting him in the back.
The ex-IRA boss fell to the pavement and was then shot four times in the face.
Security sources told Sunday Life this indicates a “personal grudge motive” for the murder.
One said: “Why else shoot someone four times in the face?”
After gunning down Davison the killer, who had his head covered with a hood, was witnessed walking calmly from the scene and into an alley at Stanfield Place where he disappeared.
Our security source added: “It was a professional hit by someone who has done this before.
“The gunman walked calmly from the scene, he didn’t run, there was no getaway car, in fact there was not a single vehicle set on fire in Belfast last Tuesday.”
Police believe the hitman may have hid out in a house in the Markets for a while before leaving the area on foot.
PSNI checks on the dozens of CCTV cameras around the district — which only has three entrances and exits — have not identified any suspicious vehicles.
That is why cops are now looking at footage from nearby Central Station.
They want to rule out the possibility the killer may have escaped on a train, possibly to Dublin.
Our sources said it is highly probable that the murder was arranged by friends of drug dealers slain in the 1990s by the IRA linked Direct Action Against Drugs (DAAD).
They also believe that these same individuals may have paid for a professional hitman to carry out the killing of Davison, who led DAAD.
“The problem we face at the moment is that Jock Davison had dozens of enemies,” said an insider.
“There are any number of people with both the motive and resources to carry out this killing.”
Like the PSNI the Provos also have no real idea who was responsible, creating paranoia among its senior members.
“The Provos biggest fear is that its other top guys could be targeted in similar shootings,” added our source.
After Davison was gunned down senior republicans including Bobby Storey, Brian Gillen and Eddie Copeland descended on the Markets to offer his family support.
Official IRA and INLA members also made a point of visiting the murder scene, as did dissidents from ONH and the New IRA.
Each of these groupings told the Provos they had no role in the killing and would support their efforts to identify the killers.
So far cops have arrested three men who have all been released unconditionally.
They are Brendan Devine, who fought with Jock Davison minutes before Robert McCartney was stabbed to death in Magennis’ bar in 2005.
The 41-year-old was later freed after detectives accepted he had absolutely nothing to do with the fatal shooting.
Also arrested was Scott McHugh, 27, whose uncle has children with Davison’s sister.
He is the grandson of IRA murder victim Anthony ‘Monkey’ McKiernan who was killed in 1988 over informant allegations. McHugh — who was questioned by cops about a dissident republican shooting in the Markets four years ago — had clashed with Davison in recent weeks.
He too was freed unconditionally after strongly denying any involvement and having attended a PSNI station voluntarily.
A 38-year-old man from the Markets was the third man arrested on Thursday night, but released two hours later.
He had absolutely nothing to do with the murder and was out of the country on holiday at the time.
Security sources say that because Davison had so many enemies from his time in the IRA they are duty-bound to chase every lead — even if it means arresting the wrong people.
What they are now focusing on though is the scenario that his killer was a professional hitman, paid for by the friends of drug dealers murdered by Direct Action Against Drugs.
Davison, who was about to become a grandfather for the fourth time, led the vigilante group which started off its killing campaign in 1995 when it gunned down his Short Strand neighbour Mickey ‘Moneybags’ Mooney.
Three years earlier the republican, then aged 24, committed his first murder — shooting dead IPLO leader Sammy Ward in the St Matthew’s Social Club during a feud with the IRA.
After this Davison — whose uncle was murdered IRA boss Brendan ‘Ruby’ Davison — quickly rose through the Provo ranks and by the late 1990s became its leader in Belfast.
He was then promoted to Northern Command, but was stood down in 2005 after the shameful bar-room murder of Robert McCartney.
Despite cutting ties with the Provos soon after, he remained on good terms with its senior figures and enjoyed a close friendship with ex-IRA Army Council member Brian Gillen.
In later years Davison was employed as a community worker in the Markets Development Association — the office where he was walking to when he was murdered last Tuesday.
Cops investigating the killing have appealed for information, with Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway saying: “From our inquiries we believe the gunman was wearing a black hooded waterproof jacket.
“We believe he may have been waiting for Jock to walk past on his way to work at the junction of Lower Stanfield Street and Welsh Street. We need to speak to anyone who thinks they saw this individual.”
“At another level, we still face many challenges in terms of the information coming to us and how we act on this in order to progress the investigation,” added DCI Galloway.
“That’s going to raise issues in terms of the inquiries we have to make, the people we need to speak to, the doors we need to knock and the arrests and searches we make.
“Our objective will always be to conduct a thorough, professional investigation.”
Anyone with information on the Jock Davison murder should contact detectives at Musgrave Street station or the Crimestoppers charity on 08000 555 111.
Read more:Second Gerard 'Jock' Davison murder suspect freed by police
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