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Investigation to reopen into murder of Lorraine McCausland in Belfast in 1987

NewsBy Jamie McDowell
Lorraine McCausland
Lorraine McCausland
Tyndale club exterior
Tyndale club exterior

The PSNI's Serious Crime Branch today reopened an investigation into the murder of Lorraine McCausland in north Belfast in 1987.

The 23-year-old mother of two was last seen in a loyalist drinking club in Tynedale.

Her body was later found in the early hours of the morning beside a stream in the Forthriver area, on March 8 of that year.

Detective Inspector Michelle Griffin said: “The investigation is being re-opened because, having reviewed the case, police believe there are potential new lines of enquiry. 

“It is our assessment that Lorraine had been enjoying a night out with friends and ended up in a loyalist drinking club at Tyndale. We believe she was raped in the club and later savagely beaten inside and outside the premises before her partially clothed body was dumped on open ground beside a nearby river.

“This was a merciless beating of a vulnerable young woman. It has had a profound effect on her family. It would also have had a lasting impact on the people who witnessed these events 29 years ago. The people involved in this attack are still at large."

In a previous investigation into the murder, 14 arrests were made but no one was charged. 29 searches took place, 100 witness statements were taken and 107 exhibits were submitted for forensic examination, with 45 of those sent for examination by fingerprint experts.

The police will also be handing out leaflets in the area in order to try and jog peoples' minds. 

The interior of the Tynedale drinking club 

DI Griffin added: “Much work has already been done on this investigation. We are seeking to obtain the additional and crucial information from people in the community who can help Lorraine and her family achieve closure and justice.

“We are distributing leaflets in the immediate area to highlight the reinvestigation and we are making a public appeal to those with information about the events of that night to come forward.

“I am appealing to anyone who was in the club on the night of Saturday 7 and the early hours of Sunday 8 March 1987. It’s a long time ago but I’m sure everyone who was there still carries those memories. They will probably never leave them.

“I want them to think about what happened that night: the brutal rape and subsequent murder of a defenceless, vulnerable young woman who left her home in Forthriver Crescent for a night out with some friends and ended up being savagely beaten.

“Lorraine was a popular member of the local community. She had worked as a stitcher and then in her sister’s mobile shop. Everybody in the area knew Lorraine and liked her for her personality and kindness. But some people have been reluctant to assist with the investigation into her rape and murder."

Detectives also believe that loyalist paramilitaries may have been involved in Lorraine's murder.

“The shadow of loyalist paramilitarism hangs over this case. I believe people have been reluctant to tell the truth about that night, what they saw and heard, what they know, because they are frightened. 

“I understand their fear but I believe there are ways of dealing with this and providing a mechanism to enable people to come forward and tell us what they know about the events of that night so that we can get justice for Lorraine and her family. Times have changed, people and personalities have changed. I would ask those people who have information to ask themselves if they are now in a position to help a victim and her family get the truth and secure justice. 

“I would ask anyone with information to talk to police. We will do everything in our power to ensure they do so in safety and confidence."

Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives from Serious Crime Branch on the non-emergency 101 number. Alternatively, people who do not wish to leave their personal details can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.