'We won't let this go, we're going for justice,' vows Ian Ogle's daughter
'The only thing keeping us all strong is we are not letting this go... we're going to have them brought to justice'
The daughter of murder victim Ian Ogle has said she believes her father's death was the culmination of a campaign of intimidation sparked over accusations that her brother gave someone a "dirty look" in an east Belfast bar.
Mr Ogle (45), known as 'Big O', was viciously attacked in Cluan Place, just yards from his east Belfast home, on Sunday night.
He was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital but died from his injuries.
Speaking from the family home yesterday, Toni Johnston-Ogle (27) told the Belfast Telegraph how she, her father, brother Ryan (23) and another family member were violently set upon by individuals claiming to be UVF members in a bar in July 2017.
The legal secretary, who said that "time has stopped" for her since the weekend, said the initial incident led to an 18-month ordeal for her family.
As a stream of mourners visited the house to console Mr Ogle's loved ones yesterday, the grieving woman admitted that her family "isn't coping great" over the loss.
"It was a brutal attack," she said. "I'm in complete disbelief, we were together the whole weekend, and I feel like daddy's up in hospital and he's going to come in and wind everyone up.
"My brother Ryan's not really good at all, he has hardly spoken. He's blaming himself because he wasn't there, but it's not his fault.
"My mum thinks her life's over. Me and my brother are just trying to comfort her and tell her she has us. My granny, who is in her 60s, left the hospital that night saying: 'I woke up with five kids and I'm now going to bed with four'.
"The only thing that is keeping me strong is that we're not letting this go, we're going to have them brought to justice."
Toni said the violent incident that she believes ultimately led to the murder occurred in an east Belfast bar in the summer of 2017.
"I got a phone call to say that people had jumped on Ryan. Apparently he gave a dirty look to these thugs, as far as I know they belonged to the UVF," she recalled.
"He didn't give a dirty look, they are known to fight with everyone, they are absolute bully boys. I rushed to the bar, and one fella beat me with an open hand out the front. Then I ran through the door and into the main bar and I was again assaulted by two other fellas.
"My parents got the call to say that Ryan was being attacked.
"My daddy rolled out of bed, kept his T-shirt on, put his jeans and slippers on and ran down.
"He ran through the bar and we were beaten with bar stools, glasses and bottles, punches, everything. My daddy was bottled on the back of the head, and although it didn't smash, it left a big lump.
"They were jumping on my brother. He had a head injury, they jumped on his chest and head and bottled him. His whole face was marked, swollen, bruised. He had four or five staples in the back of his head.
"I had bruising on my shoulder and collar bone, and some sort of whiplash, because when the guy was beating me out the front I was putting my head back on the ground.
"A fella inside the bar was shouting 'we're the UVF' and holding his arms out.
"There were five men as well as the girlfriend of one of them involved in the attack."
She and her brother attended the Ulster Hospital after the incident, but didn't report it to the police.
She claims the family were then ordered to give statements to the UVF as part of an "internal investigation" into the incident by the terrorist group.
"I was asked how much I had to drink, was I on anything else? They wrote it down in a notebook," she explained.
"My mum gave them pictures of the injuries as well.
"They were doing an internal investigation. They said no one was going to get hurt and they would come back to us in due course with a decision.
"It came through that it had went against us, and my daddy was ordered to get his arms and his legs broken - the term 'busted up' was used. My brother was to go and get his head caved in. My mummy sat breaking her heart because she said: 'My son's already got his head caved in'.
"My daddy said that not under any circumstances was my brother going for anything, because he said that we did nothing wrong.
"The message was sent through that they weren't going, and that was when it really got worse."
In the 18 months that followed, Toni said she was forced to move home, and that her family were "harassed, intimidated and verbally abused".
She said that her father was notified by police that the UVF had made "two or three" death threats against him.
In addition, she claims her family was advised they "weren't allowed to be seen about in east Belfast".
"Death threats were coming through, intimidation on the roads, threats to kill," she said.
"There was a message sent through that they were going to leave my brother alone, but my daddy was still to go and get busted up.
"I would say there were possibly three attempts for an appointment for punishment, and my daddy didn't go to any of them. He refused.
"They tried to isolate our family, to discredit my family. They said my daddy went into the bar and wrecked it.
"It ended up that my brother was walking to work and my daddy was so many feet behind him, just to check (he was OK).
"He kept warning my mummy: 'They're going to come for Ryan'. That was his greatest fear."
Toni says her father believed an attack on the family home was likely, and feared for his loved ones rather than himself.
"Many a time watching TV he said: 'You need to be prepared that they're going to kill. I want them to get me, I don't want them to get you'," she said. "It was hard for us to listen."
On the night of the murder she was a passenger in a car and said that she saw a small crowd of people dressed in black running into another car.
"I was screaming. We got a phone call then from my brother's friend to say 'they've got Ian'," she said.
"We got to the top of the street to where my brother was holding him, and we just saw blood everywhere. I felt fear, I was angry, I was squealing.
"The neighbours had to calm me down, they said they needed something to sedate me. I believe it happened while my dad was praying with a local pastor."
She says her mother Vera (45) believes that, at the time of the attack, her father had been "standing guard at the entrance to the street so they wouldn't come in for Ryan".
"He told us he would die for us or do time for us," she added.
"When it happened, my brother ran up, he held daddy. He's blaming himself because he wasn't there, but it's not his fault.
"My brother believed that he was dead when he held him.
"I believed that they were getting him stable at the Royal, we were distraught."
Toni says that she "doesn't regret" posting a harrowing video of the immediate aftermath of the attack on social media, but wouldn't have done it if she had known her father was dying. "I didn't know the video could be saved and passed on," she explained. "If I'd known that my daddy was lying there dying I would never have taken that.
"I thought my daddy was unconscious, seriously hurt. I didn't think it was death.
"I don't regret putting it up and people seeing the raw emotions there."
The UVF denied any involvement after Mr Ogle's murder.
It's understood that the leadership of the terror group has said those responsible do not have its protection.
In a statement released to the Irish News, the UVF said it was "seeking answers as to who carried out this attack" and "wholeheartedly condemned" the actions of those responsible.
The terrorist group added that whoever carried out the murder "did not do it in the name of loyalism or the UVF".
However, Toni branded the statement "insulting".
She believes the UVF is "trying to save face because of the backlash of the community".
"I don't believe it was sanctioned," she said.
"But I want to know from the UVF, are they going to continue to protect these individuals?
"They say they haven't, but I don't believe it.
"I think that they will tell these guys to lie low for a while.
"If the worst happens, we'll be walking past them in the street.
"I want this to stop.
"My daddy didn't want anything to do with the UVF.
"He did have links with it, but he was bringing himself away from the organisation for a very long time.
"They are setting themselves up as judge, jury and executioner. Who are they to put judgment on anyone? They still have an iron grip on this community.
"It has taken for my daddy to be murdered in cold blood for there to be an uproar." She appealed for anyone with information to come forward.
"I understand that there are people afraid, but there's someone dead now out of this," she added.
"The only thing that is keeping me strong is that we're not letting this go, we're going to have them brought to justice.
"There won't be any retaliation from us - we're doing it legally, dignified, the proper way.
"What I want is for people to come forward to the police.
"I'm begging them. No one could help us when my daddy was still alive, please help us now when he's dead.
"Me and my brother and my mummy have said that we will get justice, even if it kills us."
Toni said that the date of her father's funeral has yet to be confirmed, but that his body would be brought home.
She revealed that the last time she saw him alive she gave him a kiss goodbye and told him she loved him.
"I will remember my daddy as a hero, braveheart," she said.
"The only fear that my daddy ever had was that harm would come to us.
"He said he would fight Goliath for me, mummy and Ryan."
She said that her family is "very touched" at the support they have received from locals, who have raised thousands of pounds for her father's funeral and organised a vigil last night.
She also paid tribute to the "heart-warming support from the nationalist community".
"My daddy did say it used to be the war against the other side, it's the war against your own community now," she said.
Her mother Vera said she "hopes and prays that the family will get justice for Ian", adding that they were "determined to fight for it".
She said: "It's bad enough to lose him, but it could have been my son as well."
The PSNI said it did not discuss the security of individuals and no inference should be drawn from this.
It added: "However, if we receive information that a person's life may be at risk, we will inform them accordingly. We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk."
Detectives investigating Mr Ogle's murder arrested a 21-year-old man yesterday.
He was taken to Musgrave Serious Crime Suite for questioning.
A 49-year-old man also arrested yesterday in relation to the murder investigation was later released on bail pending further enquiries.
Two men aged 31 and 45 and two women aged 35 and 36 who were arrested on Monday were released on bail on Tuesday.