Thursday 24 May 2018

Man (34) arrested in connection with murder of taxi driver Michael McGibbon

Detective superintendent John McVea talks to the media after Michael McGibbon was fatally shot three times in the leg in an alleyway and died in the city's Royal Victoria Hospital shortly after. Phoro: David Young/PA Wire
Detective superintendent John McVea talks to the media after Michael McGibbon was fatally shot three times in the leg in an alleyway and died in the city's Royal Victoria Hospital shortly after. Phoro: David Young/PA Wire

Police have arrested a 34-year-old man for the murder of Michael McGibbon in a fatal paramilitary-style shooting in a north Belfast alleyway.

Detective Superintendent John McVea said: "The male has been detained on suspicion of murder. He will be questioned at Musgrave police station in Belfast.”

Mr McGibbon (33) was shot three times in the leg in an alleyway at Butler Place close to Elmfield Street at around 10.05pm on Friday night.

The father-of-four was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital but died from his injuries.

Mr McGibbon's wife has said that her husband went to meet his murderers before his fatal paramilitary-style shooting.

His nurse wife Joanne told how she held him in her arms and tried to stop the flow of blood.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Life, the young widow told of how she and her children have been robbed of a good husband and father.

"The kids are just devastated and I just can't take it in. It is just a nightmare."

Meanwhile, police returned to the area on Sunday morning to conduct door to door interviews.

Detectives investigating the murder said his killers 'have no legitimacy in this community.'

They called on the community in Ardoyne to help bring his killers to justice.

Detective Superintendent John McVea said: "Michael was brutally and callously shot a number of times in the leg in an alleyway in a densely populated urban area. Despite the best efforts of his wife Joanne immediately after the attack, she was unable to save him and Michael tragically passed away following emergency surgery at the RVH."

Treasured husband and father

He added: "What happened in that alleyway last night robbed a family of a treasured husband and father. There is nothing that can justify or explain the senselessness of this murder. And let’s be clear, that is what we are talking about here, murder.

"Michael McGibbon was a local man. As I’ve said, he was a husband and a father. He was also a taxi driver who was well known in his community. He was a man with no criminal record, no apparent criminal connections or associations and today we are talking about his murder.  There is no rationalising that.

Hallmarks of a paramilitary murder

The PSNI said the killing "bears all the hallmarks of a paramilitary murder" and revealed that two men had called at Mr McGibbon's house the previous night demanding he come out to meet them, something he refused to do.

Detective McVea said: "Those who carried it out have no legitimacy in this community and today I am asking the community to help us find them. Help us bring justice to the McGibbon family.

"I am appealing in particular to two males who called at the McGibbon home late in the evening of 14 April. These men asked Mr McGibbon to step out of the house. When he refused, they stated that they would be back.

"The first male is described as in his early twenties, slim and was wearing a red hooded top, baseball cap and had a scarf over his face. The second is described as in his late teens, wearing a grey hooded top, baseball cap and also had a scarf over his face.

"I am asking these men, or anyone who knows their identity, to get in touch with police. If there is an innocent explanation for your presence at the house on Thursday night, allow us to eliminate you from this enquiry.

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

Community shocked

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said the victim was 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: "The community is reeling and has been left shocked and horrified by this brutal murder.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family whose lives have been plunged into darkness by this unspeakable crime.

"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.

"I urge anyone with information to contact the PSNI immediately."

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."

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said: "This callous and shocking murder appears to have the hallmarks of the paramilitary-style assaults which too often ruin lives and scar Northern Ireland. My sympathy is with Mr McGibbon's young family."

Detectives can be contacted by calling the non-emergency number 101.

Or if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Belfast Telegraph

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