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Tuesday 24 April 2018

Asda's double killer employee: Why did he get his job back?

Adrian Rutherford

The brother of two Catholics lured to their deaths during the Troubles has called on stores chain Asda to explain why their killer was allowed back to work.

Gerard McErlane spoke out after William Hunter was reinstated in his job at the chain’s Shore Road store in north Belfast following a four-day protest.

Hunter had been dismissed after telling a driver who was listening to music that he should be playing The Sash.

Hunter has been reinstated to the checkout job he has held for seven years, but there was no sign of him at the store yesterday.

Most shoppers said they were still fully behind Hunter, described by friends as “salt of the earth” and as someone who isn’t sectarian.

After an appeal on Monday, Asda said Hunter had “expressed regret for the unintentional offence he caused”.

But Mr McErlane, whose brothers Thomas and John were shot dead in May 1975, said he was angered by the store’s decision.

Hunter was one of two men convicted for the killings.

“When I heard the name and made inquiries and found out it was the same man who murdered John and Thomas, I said to myself ‘this man is still a bigot’,” Mr McErlane said. “It really annoys me to think he is still trying to incite hatred, especially in Asda, which has a mixed community going in and out of it.”

Mr McErlane has now called on Asda to explain why Hunter has been reinstated.

“I just wonder what Asda will do now that they have found out he is a convicted killer,” he added. “I would love them to ring me and give me an explanation.

“People have made comments about him being friendly and ‘salt of the earth’, but I thought to myself, when I let this out, I wonder

what they’ll think about him.” Asda has said it does not discuss individual cases.

John (29) and Thomas (19) were shot while playing cards at a flat near the Asda store where Hunter works. Two gunmen burst in and shot the pair in the head.

Sources close to Hunter, who still lives in the Mount Vernon area, said he would not be making any comment.

Shoppers yesterday said they were still supporting Hunter.

Billy Houston, from north Belfast, said Hunter did not deserve to be unfairly treated by Asda regardless of his past.

Another, who gave his name as John, said: “That (conviction) has got nothing to do with the remarks he made. I don’t like the thought of his past, but this is a completely separate issue.”

Source: Belfast Telegraph

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