Belfast Telegraph

‘My Jim was not a drug dealer’ says widow of man shot dead at Belfast school

By Suzanne Breen

The widow of a man murdered outside a west Belfast school has strongly denied he was a drug dealer and has said lies are being spread by people who did not know him.

Laura Donegan pledged to "forever defend and stand up" for her husband Jim who was shot dead outside St Mary's Grammar School on the Glen Road on Tuesday.

Mr Donegan was sitting in his car waiting to pick up his 13-year-old son when the lone gunman struck. He was hit in the head and chest.

The 43-year-old father of three died instantly. The PSNI are investigating a motive for the murder and have not ruled out dissident republican involvement.

Writing on Facebook, Mrs Donegan denied her husband was involved in any criminal activity and said he worked hard for everything he had.

She was responding after a friend of her husband's challenged those making the allegations to produce evidence he was a drug dealer.

"I am glad there are people standing up for my Jim," Mrs Donegan said. "All the lies and accusations are just off the scale.

"My Jim was not involved in any way with any criminal activity.

"I knew who my Jim was and he was nothing like that. He worked hard everyday.

"Maybe the people who are spreading the gossip and lies should try a day's work, give them something to do, rather than try to label my husband."

Mrs Donegan added: "I will forever defend Jim and will always stand up for him as I know who he was, they don't and never will."

Mr Donegan's friend said he had questioned him on the drugs allegations and believed his denials. "Jim to me was a father, a husband, and 100% a worker who loved nice things, not one bit or fact has been proven he was involved with drugs," the west Belfast man wrote.

Mrs Donegan was in a distressed state at the scene of the murder where she was comforted by relatives on Tuesday.

Her husband's son missed the assassination by seconds. Staff brought him back into school. Relatives say they fear he will never get over what happened.

Mid-Ulster SDLP councillor Denise Mullen, whose father Denis was murdered by the UVF's Glenanne gang at his home in the Moy in 1975, has said her heart goes out to the Donegan family.

Ms Mullen said she knew what it was like to lose a parent in horrific circumstances. "The murder of Mr Donegan brought back awful memories for me," she said.

"His son will have to live with his experience for the rest of his life. Because there is no magic out there, no miracle, or no cure that will take that away from you. There is no magic that will take the picture of my daddy out of my head. It will haunt me forever.

"I'd like to reach out to that child. If the Donegan family ever want to talk, I'm here to talk, listen and help - if I can," she said.

The lone gunman, who wore a high visibility jacket with the word 'security' on the back, fired eight times at Mr Donegan in his parked Porsche Panamera.

Teachers covered the car with coats so terrified children could not see inside. Counselling has been offered to children and staff who witnessed the attack.

The PSNI has released CCTV footage of the gunman walking to the scene and then fleeing. Two men arrested on Wednesday by detectives have been released unconditionally.

Known as 'JD', Mr Donegan lived in the Lisburn area with his family.

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