Belfast Telegraph

Mum vows never give up fight to bring cowards to justice who killed delivery driver son Kieran McManus

Sally McManus (left) with her niece Amanda McConkey outside court yesterday
Sally McManus (left) with her niece Amanda McConkey outside court yesterday
Murdered: Kieran McManus

By Gillian Halliday

The mother of a pizza delivery driver murdered by a masked gunman has vowed never to give up seeking justice for her son.

Sally McManus paid a moving tribute to her son, Kieran (26) after the findings of an inquest into the unsolved killing were delivered yesterday by Coroner Patrick McGurgan.

Speaking outside Laganside Courthouse in Belfast, she branded those responsible for her son's death "cowards".

"He was a gentleman. He didn't deserve to die. They were a pack of cowards who shot him in the back because they couldn't face him," she said.

"We will get justice for him. We're not going to give up."

Mrs McManus attended every day of the inquest, held last week, where she heard distressing details of the last minutes of her son's life.

Mr McManus, a father-of-one from west Belfast, was shot twice in the back outside a Domino's pizza takeaway at the DC Enterprise Centre, Kennedy Way, on March 30, 2013.

He was targeted as he stood by his car where inside three other people - including his half-brother - heard the gunman utter the words, "All right, Kieran" before the killer fled the scene in a waiting getaway vehicle.

His murder has been linked to a long-running feud which started in 2010 and culminated in the murder of south Belfast man Stephen Carson three years ago.

In his findings, Mr McGurgan acknowledged one possible motive investigated by police was that Mr McManus's killing was linked to a sword attack on Michael Smith, who was convicted of Mr Carson's murder in 2018. Mr McManus had admitted in court to being involved in the incident.

On the last day of hearing evidence, the coroner learned that Smith - a prisoner who had been listed as a witness - refused to give evidence at the inquest. Smith has never been charged with any offences connected to the McManus killing.

The coroner said Mr McManus had suffered a "violent and tragic" death caused by two gunshots fired from a double-barrelled shotgun, which had probably been sawn-off.

Offering his condolences to Mr McManus's family, Mr McGurgan stressed he hoped the inquest would help bring them closure.

He told Mrs McManus: "I do hope that it has been of some benefit to you and your family to have heard the inquest and this evidence in public.

"It has perhaps brought some degree of closure, though I appreciate that (full closure) will never be the case as a family." He also acknowledged the lasting impact on the three young people who had been with Mr McManus on the evening of the murder. "They will be marked and traumatised for the rest of their lives," he said.

Mr McGurgan stressed the murder had been the subject of an "extensive" police investigation which remains open and urged anyone with information to contact the PSNI.

The coroner's appeal was echoed by Mrs McManus, who welcomed the inquest findings.

When asked about Smith's decision not to participate in the inquest, she said she wasn't surprised. "I know everything about him so he didn't need to say anything. He's in the right place."

The mother stressed she still wants her son's killer caught, particularly for her grandson, Mr McManus's son, who she said is still dealing with the loss of his father six years on.

"He's 12 now. He's still fretting and terrible. It has messed his whole head up," she said. "He's afraid of people trying to grab him because he belongs to Kieran. He wants justice for his dad."

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