Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Wright's killer 'Crip' succumbs to cancer

By Stephen Breen

The INLA killer of loyalist godfather Billy 'King Rat' Wright has lost his fight against cancer.

Christopher 'Crip' McWilliams, who also murdered innocent Catholic bar manager Colm Mahon in 1991, died at his Newry home early yesterday.

The 40-year-old, who was on a loyalist hit-list before his death, is set to be buried tomorrow.

McWilliams — released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement in 2000 — had been fighting cancer for seven years.

INLA leaders from Northern Ireland and the Republic are set to converge on Newry for the former terrorist's funeral.

The ex-prisoner was fighting a deadly battle against a rare form of leukemia and had been receiving treatment over the border.

Although he received a number of bone marrow operations in the last few years, his condition deteriorated after Christmas.

Irish Republican Socialist Party spokesman Willie Gallagher confirmed the " dedicated socialist republican" died with his family at his bedside early on Saturday.

Senior republican sources said McWilliams was held in high regard because of his role in the Wright murder, but "detested" because of his killing of Mr Mahon.

Said one source: "The simple fact is that Crip would not have been in jail if he hadn't murdered an innocent man.

"Colm Mahon was murdered just because he threw McWilliams out of a bar and everyone in the INLA was disgusted with his actions. When he was outside he wasn't a major operator and instead of killing innocent Catholics over trivial things he should have used his weapon on the security forces or the loyalists.

"He wasn't well-liked, but when he pumped the bullets into Wright his status was elevated. He deserved credit for killing a man who slaughtered innocent women and children.

"The IRA didn't like McWilliams because of the Mahon murder, but they were secretly pleased over the Wright killing."

Shortly after his release from jail, McWilliams revealed how he " emptied the magazine" into the LVF serial killer.

He said: "As an INLA volunteer I have no regrets, but as an individual I took no personal satisfaction out of my role to eliminate Billy Wright.

"A decision was taken to eliminate Billy Wright because he had opted to direct a ruthless campaign of slaughter of innocent Catholics from inside Long Kesh."

Belfast Telegraph

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