Davison felt unassailable in his area, surrounded by IRA gang
Gerard 'Jock' Davison was infamously the IRA boss who drew his finger across his throat as a signal to a gang to set about the murderous attack on Robert McCartney.
Davison was the 'officer commanding' of the Provisional IRA in south Belfast, having inherited the position because his uncle, Brendan 'Ruby' Davison, who was shot dead by loyalists in 1998, was 'OC' before him.
On the night of the McCartney murder, Davison and his 'unit' were part of a large group of Provos who had just returned from the annual republican pilgrimage to commemorate the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings of 14 Catholic protesters by the British Army in Derry.
Davison and his crew bore some bad feeling towards McCartney and his small group of friends, who had been enjoying a drink in Magennis' pub.
Local people said it was Davison's personal animus towards McCartney that drove the incident. Davison had 'fancied' a woman close to McCartney but had been spurned.
Davison felt unassailable in the Markets area, with his gang around him, including figures who were known locally as criminals, including one suspected of paedophile rape.
One of his gang actually had the nickname 'Rapist' and others were known as violent criminals who played little role in the IRA's actual campaign.
Through his uncle's connections, Davison was 'well connected' with senior figures in the Republican movement, as the IRA and Sinn Féin was termed. He was pictured on occasions alongside Gerry Adams and other senior party figures.
But, locally, there were strong suspicions that Davison was an agent for the British Army and this was compounded in the immediate aftermath of the McCartney murder.
In the frenzy of the killing - with up to a dozen men beating and stabbing McCartney and his friend, Brendan Devine, who survived - Davison, who was wielding one of the kitchen knives taken from the pub, stabbed himself in the hand.
He was taken to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald in east Belfast, a strange move given that the main accident and emergency units in the city are in the much nearer Royal Victoria and Mater Hospitals.
Witnesses at the Ulster Hospital reported that when Davison arrived he was met by two men wearing suits and who spoke in English accents. It was taken that these were Davison's 'handlers', the term for agent controllers.
The suspicion that Davison was a 'tout' was compounded by the revelations in the aftermath of his uncle Ruby's murder that he, too, was a senior informant for the Royal Ulster Constabulary's Special Branch. Ruby was shot dead by the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), who were unaware at the time he was working for the RUC.
Another of Gerard Davison's uncles was the former IRA internal security figure, Freddie Scappaticci, also from the Markets area and allegedly another senior British agent within the Provisional IRA, something he too has denied.
Gerard Davison continued living in the Markets area as the international controversy over the McCartney murder spread to the White House as the five McCartney sisters pursued their ultimately unsuccessful campaign for justice.
Local people said this week that Davison was one of those former Provos who had benefited personally from the peace deal in the North, buying up holiday homes in seaside resorts on the Co Down coast.
Davison denied being an informant and being responsible for Robert McCartney's murder in subsequent interviews in 2005.
It was reported after the murder that Davison's 'punishment' for his part in the attack was a three-month suspension from Sinn Féin.
As yesterday's murder spread shockwaves through Sinn Féin in Belfast, local people began speculating the murder could be linked to the rise of the drugs trade in the city's nationalist areas, where the IRA previously shot dead anyone suspected of drug dealing.
Davison was suspected of the April 1995 murder of a local drug dealer. His murder was one of nine assassinations of alleged drug dealers in Belfast which were carried out around or after the time of the IRA ceasefires.