THE author who exposed the full depravity of the Shankill Butchers has slammed a bizarre online animation depicting their crimes in cartoon form.
The four-minute cartoon clip entitled 'Shankill Butchers: Lenny Murphy the killer Ireland never forgets!' was uploaded to YouTube earlier this month.
It claims to tell the story of Lenny Murphy and his murderous gang through child-like animation, including the killers abducting victims in New York-style yellow cabs, but has been criticised by author and investigative journalist Martin Dillon. Mr Dillon (71) wrote The Shankill Butchers: A Case Study of Mass Murder in 1989 and it became the definitive book on the savage UVF gang responsible for at least 23 killings.
Reacting to the animation he said it was deeply inadequate, historically illiterate and a distortion of the horrific crimes perpetrated by the Shankill Butchers.
He said: "This video is a stark example of what happens when people with little knowledge of the past, distort it, using a social media platform.
"I would be keen to know who created and launched this cartoonish narrative of the history of The Shankill Butchers.
"It is riddled with flaws and may have originated in America where a band called the Decemberists perform a song called The Shankill Butchers.
"Perhaps one of their fans was responsible for this video. I once wrote to the band, but they never had the courtesy to reply. Their song lyrics exploit the horror of the Butchers.
"The video is similarly skewed towards a tabloid treatment of the story that implies its creator never took the time to read my book on the Butchers."
Mr Dillon, who was born in Belfast but now lives in California, also criticised any notion of considering murderous thugs like Lenny Murphy as victims of the Troubles.
He added: "It is an offensive proposition. It is also dismissive of the pain and suffering of victims and their families in both communities. "
The Shankill Butchers animated clip was uploaded to YouTube by an account called In 2 Minutes Animation which describes itself as an animated history channel.
The about section of their YouTube profile reads: "In 2 Minutes is an animated video channel that takes you to ancient and recent history to introduce the most infamous or famous people to you. Whether they are well-known lovers, mighty kings, rich people, OR sadistic serial killers, filthy politicians and warlords, we have them all for you in the form of short and fun animations." The Shankill Butchers' reign of terror spanned seven years between 1975 and 1982 and they became notorious for kidnapping, torturing and murdering innocent Catholics.
Most of Murphy's original gang were eventually snared by cops and received the longest combined prison sentences in UK legal history.
The trial judge described their crimes as "a lasting monument to blind sectarian bigotry".
Gang leader Murphy escaped prosecution but was shot dead in November 1982 by the Provisional IRA.