Belfast Telegraph

Ray Johnston's neighbours 'sickened' by Belfast shotgun murder

By Brett Campbell

Neighbours of a "quiet and friendly" father who was shot dead while making pancakes with his partner and her daughter have told of their shock following the brutal murder in west Belfast.

Raymond Johnston (28) was shot in the chest in the living room of his Poleglass home just before 8pm on Tuesday in front of his partner Eileen Robinson and her 11-year-old daughter - her 16-year-old daughter was with friends outside on the street.

It is understood the victim, who has a child from a previous relationship, only moved to the area to be with Eileen in recent years and is originally from Crumlin.

Detectives from the PSNI's Serious Crime Branch are seeking to identify a man dressed in a blue coat with fur around the hood who was seen leaving Glenbawn Avenue in a black car with tinted windows.

Police have not yet established a motive for the murder and are pursuing several lines of inquiry.

Sinn Fein councillor Stephen Magennis said Ms Robinson has been left "completely devastated" in the wake of the murder.

"All we can do is offer her help and support at this dreadful time," he said.

"Eileen has fought hard for the residents of Poleglass and has been successful in securing a housing improvement scheme to help further transform this area which we thought had already changed so much, but unfortunately this has come to her door," he added.

Residents who reported hearing gunshots and screaming rushed to the property in a bid to help but were confronted with a "bloodbath" after arriving.

One man, who stood helpless as others made futile attempts to resuscitate the victim, said Mr Johnston had been making pancakes at the time of the "sickening" attack.

Another neighbour, who described him as a "quiet but very friendly guy", said residents have been left shocked.

"It's absolutely awful - that child has to live with those images forever now, which is just appalling," they added.

One neighbour recalled watching TV when she heard a car "screeching off" down the street, before dozens of blue lights lit up her window.

"I already knew something was wrong but then it turned into complete mayhem with police everywhere - the place was swarming," she said. The woman was standing with dozens of neighbours who had gathered in the street when she learned the full extent of the horror which had unfolded just yards away.

"I was shocked, I'm still shocked, to think that something so terrifying happened right on my own doorstep," she said.

"This street is usually full of kids out playing. The fact that it happened in front of his partner and her child makes this so much more horrific."

SDLP councillor Tim Attwood said there is widespread revulsion following the killing.

"The fact that there were children involved has left many people feeling very angry," he said. "This community is totally united in its condemnation, which should send out a strong message to those who still resort to guns and violence."

Detective Chief Inspector Geoff Boyce condemned the "horrendous" murder and offered his condolences to the grieving family of Mr Johnston. "It is particularly chilling that this attack took place in front of his partner and an 11-year-old child in his own living room," he said.

Police have vowed to maintain a visible presence in the area to provide residents with reassurance and have asked anyone with information to contact detectives on 101, quoting reference 1192 of 13/02/18.

Belfast Telegraph

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