UVF probe into Ian Ogle murder a 'whitewash', says daughter
The daughter of UVF murder victim Ian Ogle has branded the terror gang's internal investigation into her dad's killing a "whitewash".
As the first anniversary of the killing approaches, Toni Johnston accused the organisation's leaders of spending the past 12 months lying to her family.
"It's been lie, after lie, after lie," she said, sitting in the living room of her father's former east Belfast home.
Ian was stabbed to death at the front of the house on Cluan Place as he prayed with local pastor Kevin Sambrook.
Earlier that dark January 27 evening, he had been involved in a clash with UVF members on the Beersbridge Road.
The gang responded by sending a five-man murder squad armed with knives and bats to his door.
One of them stabbed Ian, who was a UVF member, 11 times in his back, which was covered in a tattoo to commemorate soldiers who died during the Battle of the Somme.
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After the savage killing, the East Belfast UVF leadership promised to expel those involved and denied the attack had been sanctioned at a high level.
They also met with Toni Johnston and promised an internal inquiry. Almost a year on, she is still waiting on the findings.
"The UVF told me that everyone involved in my daddy's murder would be expelled. Well, that was another lie," said Toni.
"The ones responsible are still out socialising with leading UVF members in east Belfast and enjoying their protection.
"We were promised everything by the UVF, but it hasn't delivered a single thing."
Three east Belfast loyalists are currently on bail charged with the murder of Ian Ogle.
They are Mark Sewell (40), Glen Rainey (33) and Jonny Brown (33). All deny involvement.
Nine others have been named as suspects in legal papers seen by Sunday Life.
They are Reece Kirkwood (22), Robert 'Rab' Spiers (36), Nathan Hands (23), Neil Ogle (41), Thomas McCartney (32), Christopher Haire (49), Alan 'Bo' Ervine (38), Jonathan Adams (44) and Greg Edgar (28). They all strongly deny any wrongdoing.
Despite claims from the East Belfast UVF that Ian's murder was not sanctioned at a leadership level, his heartbroken daughter believes the cover-up goes right to the top of the organisation.
She said: "The UVF can deny there has been a cover-up all they like, but everyone living in east Belfast knows that's a lot of balls.
"As far as I'm concerned, the organisation is out of control and it is only a matter of time before its members kill someone else from this community.
"My daddy was murdered for the simple reason that he stood up to them. He wasn't afraid of the UVF and they hated him for that."
In the 18 months prior to his death, Ian had been the target of a UVF intimidation campaign, having refused to attend a pre-arranged punishment beating.
He was ordered to have his arms and legs broken after rushing to an east Belfast pub to defend his children Toni and Ryan, who had been involved in a row with UVF members.
The dad of two was also forced to quit his job in Newtownards after a co-worker's car was smashed up by the gang.
Having an empty seat at the Christmas dinner table was hard on his adult kids and lifelong partner Vera, who did not bother putting up a tree and said there was an empty void in the home that can never be filled.
"My daddy loved Christmas. He made a fry for us all in the morning and then would have had a couple of drinks before dinner," Toni said, the good memories of Christmases past evident on her face.
"Sometimes he didn't make it to the dinner, depending on how much he drank. We'll never get to really enjoy Christmas again. It's heartbreaking."
As the hardest year of their lives comes to an end and the next rolls in, the family has one wish - and that is to see Ian's killers jailed.
"We want them all prosecuted, from the ones who ordered the murder to those that carried it out and then covered it up," said Toni.
"That's our only wish for the year ahead."