The gangland assassination of Geordie Gilmore has severely damaged the PSNI’s hopes of ever recovering the body of UDA murder victim Mark ‘Judge’ Gourley.
The 36-year-old was last seen alive in March 2009 in the company of a number of members of the South East Antrim terror gang, one of whom is understood to have been Gilmore.
Gourley, who was of limited intelligence, was bundled into a car on Burneys Lane in Glengormley. He was later murdered and his body secretly disappeared.
Geordie Gilmore (44), and his older brother Thompson Gilmore (46), were arrested last year in connection with the killing. They were later released without charge after strongly denying involvement.
Loyalist sources told Sunday Life that UDA member Gourley was murdered during a ‘hiding gone wrong’ because he owed money to the South East Antrim UDA.
His body is believed to have been hidden in a secret grave in Woodburn Forest at the top end of Carrickfergus.
The secluded area was often used by Geordie Gilmore’s UDA gang to carry out punishment attacks and tortures.
A well-placed source revealed: “Gourley wasn’t meant to die, it was a hiding gone wrong. His killers panicked and buried his body in secret.
“It’s disgusting, the fella was a threat to no one and was murdered over the sake of a few hundred pounds that had gone missing.”
Geordie Gilmore went into panic mode last year when an oil company was granted permission to carry out large-scale drilling at Woodburn Forest.
But unlike environmentalists who opposed the work because of the possibility of water supplies being contaminated, the ex-UDA boss was terrified it could lead to the discovery of Gourley’s body.
With Gilmore now dead, police reluctantly accept that the chances of finding the murdered man’s remains are remote.
They had hoped that the deposed UDA leader may have sought revenge on the terror gang by revealing the location and naming Gourley’s killers. Detectives working on the case are understood to have taken witness statements from a Carrickfergus UDA member who recently moved to England after a fall-out with his old terror pals.
However, sources say these are “patchy at best” and do not give Gourley’s exact secret burial place. Adding to the PSNI’s difficulties is that the murder victim has a small family, with no one campaigning publicly on his behalf after the death of his mother Beryl.
Sunday Life can also reveal that Geordie Gilmore’s broad daylight execution last Monday impacts on the investigations into the unsolved Carrickfergus UDA killings of Charlie Strain, Hugh Cameron and Tommy Hollran.
Security sources have linked him to the deaths of all three men, who were given fatal beatings by loyalist mobs. Charlie Strain died in 1998 when a UDA gang broke into his home in the Castlemara estate and attacked him with baseball bats over an unfounded allegation that he was a paedophile. The meat plant worker moved to Carrickfergus in 1996 after being badly beaten by a loyalist gang in the Silverstream area of north Belfast.
He had been accused of abusing a young girl — an accusation that he strongly denied and never faced any police action over.
A similar unproven sex claim was the catalyst for the murder of Tommy Hollran by the UDA in 2006.
The 49-year-old grave-digger had to flee Carrickfergus after being falsely accused of exposing himself to a teenage girl. But he would often make fleeting visits to his sister’s house in the town despite the threats against him.
It was on one of these trips that Tommy was cornered by a UDA gang who battered him to death in an entry.
Five years earlier, the Carrickfergus UDA carried out a similar killing when its members abducted Hugh Cameron outside the Joymount Arms bar.
The 36-year-old was taken to a remote area near Glenarm where he was stabbed and beaten to death.
His body lay undiscovered for a month and had to be identified by dental records.
A post mortem found the murder victim had been stabbed in the chest, hit over the head with a blunt object and his throat had been cut.
Hugh — who had been under threat from paramilitaries — was beaten up at a wedding reception in the months before his murder.
At his inquest in 2007, a witness explained how he had been keeping an iron bar in his home for protection.
A security source said: “Geordie Gilmore was directly involved in the murders of Mark Gourley and Tommy Hollran, and had knowledge about the deaths of Charlie Strain and Hugh Cameron.
“Unfortunately he has taken those secrets to his grave.”