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Johnny Adair plans ‘dignified’ Scotland send-off for best pal and ex-UDA hitman Sam ‘Skelly’ McCrory

No paramilitary trappings at Ayr funeral of one-time UDA assassin being organised by Mad Dog

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Johnny Adair and Sam 'Skelly' McCrory

Johnny Adair and Sam 'Skelly' McCrory

Sam 'Skelly' McCrory

Sam 'Skelly' McCrory

Sam 'Skelly' McCrory

Sam 'Skelly' McCrory

Tracey Coulter

Tracey Coulter

Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Johnny Adair and Sam 'Skelly' McCrory

Johnny Adair and Sam 'Skelly' McCrory

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Johnny Adair and Sam 'Skelly' McCrory

EX-UDA hitman Sam ‘Skelly’ McCrory’s funeral will take place in Scotland on Thursday in a service free from paramilitary trappings.

The 57-year-old loyalist, who died from a massive heart attack during a booze binge, will then be cremated.

Some of his ashes are expected to be returned to Belfast’s Shankill Road where, until the 1990s, he stalked the streets as a notorious gunman. Exiled former UDA leader Johnny Adair — who was McCrory’s best friend — is organising the funeral.

Close pal Tracey Coulter, who will be travelling to Ayr for the service, said “it will be a dignified and emotional” send-off.

A post-mortem carried out on McCrory last Tuesday confirmed he had died from a heart attack on July 24.

After suffering the devastating cardiac arrest as he walked up concrete steps to his flat at Stonecrop Place in Ayr, the loyalist fell forward and smashed his face.

This led neighbours who rushed to his aid to wrongly assume he had been assaulted. Paramedics called to the scene found a faint pulse, but despite working on him for 20 minutes were unable to save his life.

Openly gay McCrory moved to Scotland in 1999 to live with now deceased lover Harry Cowan after he was freed early from prison under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. He had been sentenced to 16 years in 1992 for conspiring to murder IRA leaders Martin ‘Duckser’ Lynch and Brian Gillen.

Prior to his arrest McCrory was one of the UDA’s most prolific hitmen and was involved in six sectarian murders.

These included the 1987 killing of west Belfast grandfather Francisco Notarantonio who was shot dead as he slept in bed.

McCrory was also linked to the 2003 feud murders of UDA leaders John ‘Grugg’ Gregg and Rab Carson, who were gunned down in Belfast docks after attending a Rangers game in Scotland.

It was because of this, and accusations of involvement in the attempted murder of UVF members on the Shankill Road in 2000, that McCrory was unable to return to the area where he grew up.

When his son Samuel Madine died last year from organ failure, aged just 34, the loyalist was unable to go back to Belfast for the funeral.

According to friends the young businessman’s tragic death sent McCrory into a spiral of depression and led to him drinking heavily following months of sobriety.

Tracey Coulter said Johnny Adair broke down in tears when he learned of the death of his close friend. The former UDA chief told Sunday Life he was too upset to talk about McCrory and was trying to “process” what had happened to his lifelong pal.

cbarnes@sundaylife.co.uk


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