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John Boreland: last images of murdered UDA chief taken minutes before death

By Ciaran Barnes

Published 16/08/2016

Last moments: Boreland drinks his final pint - minutes later he would be dead.
Last moments: Boreland drinks his final pint - minutes later he would be dead.
Guns, gangsters and grudges. Sunday Life lifts the lid on the John Boreland murder and reveals that the chief suspect is a convicted killer with links to the South Belfast UDA.

This CCTV image is the last picture of former UDA chief John Boreland – taken just 30 minutes before he was murdered in a horrific shotgun attack by members of the terror gang.

The exclusive image was captured on CCTV at the Hedgehog and Bucket bar in north Belfast, where the 46-year-old, who was laid to rest at a small funeral in north Belfast yesterday, spent his final evening alive.

Today Sunday Life lifts the lid on the ‘Bonzer’ Boreland killing and how it has pushed the UDA to the edge of yet another bloody feud.

We can reveal that:

- the chief suspect for Boreland’s shotgun killing is a convicted killer who is out on licence for stabbing a friend to death in a drunken row;

- the ex-UDA leader’s pals have vowed revenge;

- Boreland was blasted in the chest and then the face as he fell to the pavement; and

- the murder involved members of the South Belfast UDA who hid the getaway car for two days before it was set on fire.

A senior UDA source told Sunday Life: “The Boreland faction has access to weapons and will hit back.”

Ballysillan loyalist Stephen ‘Steeky’ Robinson, who was arrested last Tuesday over the killing but later released without charge, was last night lying low after being told he tops a hit list drawn up by friends of Boreland.

Floral tributes at the scene on Sunningdale Gardens in north Belfast were masked gunmen blasted Boreland. Picture: Sunday Life.
Floral tributes at the scene on Sunningdale Gardens in north Belfast were masked gunmen blasted Boreland. Picture: Sunday Life.

Despite detectives freeing Robinson, 42, unconditionally after a “no comment” interview, he remains a target for friends of the executed paramiltary.

They accuse Robinson – who has close ties to South Belfast UDA leader Jackie McDonald – of clashing with Boreland and his close pal Andre Shoukri.

Also on the Boreland gang’s death list is a convicted killer and woman beater who has been identified as the trigger-man who carried out last Sunday’s gruesome execution.

The thug, who is aged in his 30s, served a lengthy prison sentence for stabbing a pal to death during a drunken row.

This newspaper cannot name him for legal reasons, however allies of Boreland are openly claiming that he is the former loyalist leader’s killer.

“He made threats against Bonzer in the lead up to this murder. This guy has the backing of the South Belfast UDA and would be mad enough to blow someone’s head off with a shotgun. He’s an animal,” said a source.

Andre Shoukri arrives at the funeral of pal and UDA crony John Boreland in north Belfast. Picture: Sunday Life.
Andre Shoukri arrives at the funeral of pal and UDA crony John Boreland in north Belfast. Picture: Sunday Life.

The South Belfast UDA, under the command of veteran paramilitary Jackie McDonald, was involved in a long-standing dispute with Boreland stretching back more than a decade.

It was McDonald’s brigade that played the lead role in having the loyalist and his best pal Andre Shoukri expelled from the terror gang in 2006.

The factions clashed again in 2014 when the South Belfast UDA blamed Boreland and Shoukri for organising an internal coup that led to the UDA’s north Belfast leader John Bunting – a Jackie McDonald ally – being overthrown.

This led to two years of internal loyalist feuding in north Belfast which exploded into extreme violence last weekend with Boreland’s execution in the Ballysillan area.

Friends of the murder victim are adamant that he was killed by mainstream UDA members acting with the blessing of the South Belfast UDA.

This is also a view shared by senior PSNI detectives working on the case.

Family and friends look on as Boreland's coffin is taken into Cliftonville Moravian Church on the Oldpark Road for his funeral service. Picture: Sunday Life.
Family and friends look on as Boreland's coffin is taken into Cliftonville Moravian Church on the Oldpark Road for his funeral service. Picture: Sunday Life.

However, one Boreland enemy that they have ruled out playing any part in the fatal shooting is veteran loyalist Terry ‘Diamond’ McCrory.

The 53-year-old convicted UDA blackmailer – who was acquitted in the 1990s of carrying out hits for London mobsters – is coming to the end of a 20-month prison sentence for running a cocaine factory.

McCrory, who clashed with Boreland before he was jailed, was behind bars when his rival was murdered.

John Boreland was shot dead outside his flat at Sunningdale Gardens in north Belfast last Sunday night after stepping out of his black Mercedes car. He was blasted first in the chest and then the face with a shotgun by a UDA assassin who crept up from behind.

The dad-of-three’s injuries were so severe that his casket had to remain closed prior to his funeral yesterday.

In the hours before his death Boreland had been drinking in the Hedgehog and Bucket bar on the Oldpark Road, which was one of his regular haunts.

Detectives suspect UDA men were watching the pub, and when their target left the premises a message was sent to the gunman hiding less than a mile away in Sunningdale Gardens.

Five minutes later Boreland pulled up outside his home and was shot dead seconds after stepping out of his car.

The killers escaped in a Renault Megane that was found partially burnt on the Seven Mile Straight on the outskirts of north Belfast on Tuesday. Police are now trying to find out where this vehicle was hidden during the 36 hours between Boreland’s murder and its discovery.

Detectives believe it was kept at a location in south Belfast by members of the local UDA unit.

The PSNI is also seeking information on a Peugeot 307 car that was also seen in Sunningdale Gardens at the time of the killing.

Yesterday morning police swooped on properties at Carrs Glen Park and another address in north Belfast near where Boreland was gunned down.

Following searches a car was taken away for examination.

According to security sources Boreland knew before his death that he was being targeted by the mainstream UDA and had been warned to expect possible attempts on his life.

But because he had so many death threats through the years he did not take the latest ones seriously.

Despite having been a well-known criminal, Boreland was leading a modest lifestyle. His black Mercedes car cost less than £1,000 and his heavily fortified Ballysillan flat has been described as “basic”.

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