Man shot in 'paramilitary-style attack'


A man has died after being shot in what is believed to be a paramilitary-style attack in Belfast.

The man, named by police as taxi driver and father Michael McGibbon, 33, was shot several times in an alleyway on Friday night in the nationalist republican Ardoyne area.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) revealed that two men had called at Mr McGibbon's house in the Crumlin Road area in the city's north the previous night demanding he come out to meet them, something he refused to do.

At a PSNI press conference on Saturday, Detective Superintendent John McVea said: "At this moment in time we are still making inquiries and it is very early in our investigation as to what exactly has been said and if any paramilitary organisation is involved.

"I would say this has all the hallmarks of a paramilitary organisation and that is our main line of inquiry we are following at this stage."

Mr McGibbon was blasted three times in the leg in an alleyway at Butler Place shortly after 10pm on Friday, the PSNI said.

Police said his wife Joanne tried to save him before he was taken to the city's Royal Victoria Hospital where he later died after undergoing surgery.

Mr McVea said it was "too early to say why Michael was in that alleyway at that time" after it was suggested he had gone to the alleyway by appointment for a beating.

The detective said that on Thursday night two young men in hoodies and baseball caps had called at his house.

"They asked Michael McGibbon to come out of the house, which he refused," Mr McVea said.

He said Mr McGibbon had reported the matter to police on the morning of the day he died, and the matter had been referred as a matter of routine to the independent Police Ombudsman.

Mr McVea added that the killing "robbed a family of a treasured husband and father", saying: "There is no justification for this murder. This murder has the hallmarks of a paramilitary murder and there is no room in society or this community for this."

He added that the victim had no criminal convictions and "no apparent criminal connections or associations".

The elder of the men who went to his house was described by detectives as aged in his early 20s with a slim build and wearing a red hoodie, a baseball cap and a scarf over his face.

The second was described as in his late teens, wearing a grey hoodie, a baseball cap and a scarf over his face.

Mr McVea said: "I am also aware that other people in the area may also have been visited in a similar manner in recent days and I am asking for these people to make contact with police."

Politicians lined up to condemn the killing.

Nuala McAllister, Alliance Party councillor for North Belfast, said: "There can never be any excuse for carrying out such a heinous act and I utterly condemn the thugs behind it. Thanks to them, there is now a man lying dead and a family plunged into mourning.

"Violent attacks and murder have no place in our society. This was a brutal crime and those behind it need taken off our streets. Our entire community must unite against those who seek to drag us back to the bloody days of the past."

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said the man killed in the Ardoyne area of Belfast had been a father-of-four.

He said: "This killing has shocked the local community in north Belfast. This is the second such killing carried out in this area in the last six months by an armed gang which is clearly at war with the local community."

Nichola Mallon, the SDLP councillor for North Belfast, added that the local community had been left "reeling" by the brutal killing.

She said: "North Belfast has shouldered this kind of savagery in the past. There can be no justification for it. It was wrong then and it is wrong today."