UDA chiefs 'sanctioned DJ attack'
A savage beating in north Belfast which killed a radio DJ was sanctioned by senior members of the loyalist Ulster Defence Association, police have told an inquest.
Stephen Nelson, 55, was kicked repeatedly and battered with a bin and ashtray as he lay helpless in the foyer of a nightclub in September 2004. He died six months later in a vegetative state in hospital.
A gang of up to 10 heavily-built men set upon the victim after he threw somebody with connections to the paramilitary UDA out of the Chimney Corner Hotel for alleged drugs peddling, the hearing in Belfast was told.
Belfast coroner Brian Sherrard said: "It seems to me that it can only be described as something which is animalistic."
Mr Nelson, a single man from Kings Manor in east Belfast, had worked as a DJ for Downtown Radio. He organised club nights at the hotel on the Antrim Road and was involved in a dispute five weeks before his death when he evicted a customer from the premises for alleged drugs dealing.
Bar manager Monica Quinn told the inquest the customer issued chilling threats after being evicted. "He told Stephen he would pay for this with his life and he was a dead man, he also described himself as South East Antrim UDA," she said.
Police Service of Northern Ireland Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway linked that incident to the later murder, saying: "The attack was sanctioned by senior UDA members from Rathcoole, Newtownabbey."
Police arrested ten people and forwarded a file for prosecution on two men but the case was not proceeded with.
Mr Sherrard ruled that Mr Nelson died at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast in March 2005 from pneumonia after he sustained severe brain injuries during the earlier attack.