The son of an IRA murder victim armed himself with a handgun because he feared being shot dead by the same gang that killed his dad.
Kevin McGuigan Jnr was under death threat from a group of violent ex-Provos when he was caught with the weapon at the Chimney Corner Hotel in Newtownabbey.
Sunday Life understands that the threats against the 37-year-old have been renewed in the wake of last month's shooting of Belfast republican Pat Fitzpatrick - despite the fact he was behind bars when the murder bid occurred.
Last night it emerged that Kevin's brother Pearse has been warned by police that he too is under threat from republicans in Short Strand who have also wrongly blamed him for the Fitzpatrick shooting. Members of the McGuigan family said "it's laughable to anyone that knows him".
"The dogs in the street know who shot him (Fitzpatrick). It was all planned for whatever reason," they added.
Police arrested Kevin McGuigan Jnr, whose dad Kevin was gunned down by the IRA in August 2015, at a reception following the funeral of his sister Lyndsay McGuigan. The tragic mum died last June after a lengthy illness.
He is now awaiting sentencing having pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to having a handgun, ammunition and possessing cocaine. McGuigan Jnr has claimed to friends that he only had the weapon for "defence purposes" after being told he was under threat from the same IRA elements who killed his dad.
They blamed McGuigan Snr (53) for the murder of the IRA's former Belfast commander Jock Davison (inset) in the Markets area of the city in May 2015, and executed him in revenge.
The gang then targeted his son after accusing him of making threats against them.
The recent attempted murder of Pat 'Fitzy' Fitzpatrick in the Short Strand area has led to McGuigan Jnr being warned that his life is again at risk.
The 58-year-old, a close confidant of Davison and friend of Sinn Fein Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, only survived being blasted in the back because he was wearing a bulletproof vest. A violent drug dealer from south Belfast who is now living in Lisburn is being blamed by republicans for shooting Fitzpatrick.
"Even though Kevin McGuigan Jnr had nothing to do with the attempted murder of Pat Fitzpatrick because he was in Maghaberry jail, he has been threatened again," said a source.
"The gang of ex-Provos who murdered his father are waiting until his sentencing to find out the make of the gun he was caught with in the hotel."
Jock Davison was shot repeatedly in the face with a Russian-made Makarov pistol, a weapon that until recently was uncommon in Northern Ireland.
"If it comes out that McGuigan Jnr had a Makarov, then republicans will assume it came from the same batch as the gun used to murder Davison, and that will lead to further threats against him," added our source.
"He will very likely be under threat from republicans for the rest of his life."
Pat Fitzpatrick, who has a 2016 conviction for possessing a Glock pistol, has told friends he does not want any retaliation for the attempt on his life.
But senior ex-Provos are determined to lay down a marker to criminal gangs, insisting that attacks on republicans cannot go unpunished.
Several drug dealers from the Short Strand have approached these IRA individuals through go-betweens to deny involvement in the Fitzpatrick shooting.
Some have even produced water-tight alibis including CCTV footage of them drinking in a pub at the time of the January 25 murder bid.