Belfast Telegraph

Hundreds gather for the funeral of loyalist murderer

By Chris Kilpatrick

Several hundred people turned out in Belfast for the funeral of a loyalist double killer.

Billy Hunter took his own life last Friday by setting himself on fire near Millisle.

The 55-year-old is understood to have doused himself in petrol before setting himself alight.

He was taken to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald but nothing could be done to save him.

Hunter was given a double life sentence for his part in the murders of Catholic brothers John and Thomas McErlane in 1975, but was freed 14 years later.

He was in the headlines in 2010 when he was sacked from his job as a till operator at Asda after telling a driver he should play The Sash instead of pop music in his delivery van.

He was later reinstated after four days of protests at the chain's Shore Road store in north Belfast.

Yesterday, hundreds gathered to pay their respects to Hunter at his funeral at Melville & Co Funeral Home on York Road.

Shops kept their shutters down as a lone piper led the hearse along the road.

Hunter’s coffin was draped with a Union flag as it was carried into the funeral home.

Among those in attendance were a number of men wearing ties bearing the logo of the UVF.

Hunter set himself alight on the Ballywalter Road outside Millisle, before walking in front of an oncoming car.

Police said they were investigating the circumstances of his death.

Loyalists have described him as “witty”, “popular” and “jovial” member of the local community.

Floral tributes to him outside Asda described him as ‘one in a million'.

Another stated: ‘It's so hard to take in that you're gone.

‘You were loved by everybody.'

Belfast Telegraph

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