A former loyalist paramilitary murdered last week died as a result of a power-struggle among loyalists associated with the UVF, according to reports which indicated he was killed with an illegal shotgun the UVF had previously taken from him.
David Murphy’s body was found with shotgun wounds at his rural County Antrim farmhouse. He had been blasted twice in an attack described as “brutal”.
The former Ulster Volunteer Force gun smuggler had been attacked by a three-man gang at his home on Church Road in Glenwherry, on the outskirts of Ballymena.
In 2005, he was convicted of possessing a sub-machine gun, ammunition, four pistols and uniforms on behalf of the UVF.
In recent years, he fell out with the local UVF in Ballymena, reportedly over its involvement in drugs crime and with loyalists associated with the breakaway LVF. In March 2018 he was released on bail charged in connection with a plot targeting a man who was told to hand over £10,000. He was due to stand trial this year.
Former UVF spokesperson Billy Hutchison described Murphy as having become “estranged” from the UVF. He denied the attack had been sanctioned by the UVF leadership, and instead suggested a “rogue element” may have been involved.
Unconfirmed reports said Murphy was attacked with a shotgun once stolen from him by his former colleagues.
Another local figure was quoted anonymously in a loyalist newspaper as saying: “There’s a power struggle inside the loyalist paramilitaries at the moment and anyone believed to be putting a dent in their ‘business dealings’ will not be tolerated.
“Mr Murphy’s death was deliberate, this was an attack carried out not as a warning but in a manner to kill and with a clear message to others.”
Local Sinn Féin representative Oliver McMullan said the rural community was in shock.
“I would be calling on police to conduct a full investigation, not just into this man’s cause of death but also the circumstances leading up to the discovery of his body,” he said.