Mum of pizza shop murder victim tells of gang who tortured son
Eavan Murray tells full story behind dad shot in the back
Racked with pain and raw grief etched across her face, Sally McManus has one message for her son’s twisted killers – “I know who you are.”
Four weeks ago Sally had to identify her son’s lifeless body at Belfast City Morgue – hours after he had been shot in the back.
Kieran McManus, a 26-year-old dad of one, was brutally executed outside Domino’s Pizza shop at Kennedy Way, in west Belfast on March 30.
As the days and weeks pass by the image of her second child’s broken and blood covered body haunts her every waking moment.
Now, she has decided to speak out for the first time. And she tells the Sunday World:
“No mother should have to feel the pain I feel.
“I wouldn’t and couldn’t wish this pain on anyone in the world. Kieran was a hero to us. He would have done anything for his family.
“Even if I die trying I will get justice for him. I know who did this. The dogs on the street know who did this to my son.”
It was shortly after 11pm, as Kieran was about to do his last delivery of the night, when the lone gunman struck.
Chillingly his cowardly masked killer uttered the words ‘all right, Kieran’ before shooting him twice in the back.
Sally was about to go to bed when she received the call from Kieran’s teenage brother that changed her life forever.
She recalls: “Christopher rang and said Kieran had been shot.
“At first I thought he was still alive. They couldn’t bring themselves to tell me he was dead. I arrived at the hospital and by that time I knew he was gone. I knew my Kieran was dead.
“Before I was taken in to see him I was warned I couldn’t touch him, I couldn’t hug him, couldn’t kiss him.
“He hadn’t been cleaned up at all – there was blood all over his face and hair. It was the worst moment of my life. It keeps playing over in my head, the whole thing felt like a bad dream. It still does.
“I know he was 26 years old and a grown man, but in those moments and all the time since I keep thinking of him as he was as a child.
“I suppose all mothers feel like that about their sons. He will always be my child.”
Since Kieran’s barbaric death Sally and her family have been forced to endure an endless stream of cruel allegations levelled at her son.
A statement purporting to be from the Continuity IRA claimed responsibility for the murder claiming Kieran was involved in criminality.
But, as the Sunday World has previously revealed, the police believe the dad of one was murdered as part of a long running feud with a notorious Turf Lodge criminal gang.
Sally says her family’s nightmare began three years ago when her son Joseph was stabbed in the head by two known criminals close to their home.
“Two neighbours came to my door and said Joseph had been stabbed at the shops at the top of Turf Lodge.
“I ran straight there and met Joseph coming towards me covered in blood. Then I saw the two who I was told did it walking down the street, calm as a breeze, straight behind him.
“I started shouting at them for what they had done and the next thing they and a gang of their friends started kicking and punching us both.
“We managed to get away and back into the house. It was absolutely terrifying.
“Later on we were out in the front garden when three girls came to the top of the street saying: ‘Please come out and let’s talk about things’.
“Foolishly we went up and the next thing three carloads of them turned up and it turned into the most horrendous brawl you’ve ever seen.
“Kieran had nothing to do with any of the trouble and only came out to protect his family.”
During the attack west Belfast man
Michael Smith sustained a life threatening injury which nearly led to the loss of his right arm.
Sally said: “It was horrendous. Kieran was hit in the head and the ribs with a golf club.
“That night all four of my sons and three of their friends were arrested.”
Less than 24 hours after her sons’ arrest Sally McManus was burnt out of the home she had lived in all her life.
Twelve masked men came to her door and informed her she and her children had 24 hours to leave the area.
“I had lived in that house for 45 years and in a matter of minutes I was told I had to leave it and all my neighbours and friends behind.”
Kieran McManus was subsequently charged with attempted murder but the charge was withdrawn, and he and his brother Joseph were convicted of lesser counts of causing an affray and received suspended sentences.
But Sally McManus believes the legacy of that fateful night cast a long shadow which led ultimately to Kieran’s death.
She says: “Almost immediately Kieran and Joe were told their lives were under threat.”
Since then and up until his murder Kieran McManus lived under a constant threat to his life.
Police are now probing another attack on the young father which happened last Father’s Day, June 17, when he was set upon by a 13-strong mob outside Trinity Lodge bar in Turf Lodge.
Sally said: “He was attacked and stabbed with a glass bottle and was sliced repeatedly on his arm.
“Just four weeks before he died his car was burnt out in the driveway.
“He was absolutely tortured night and day for three years.”
Since Kieran’s murder Michael Smith’s father, Michael Snr., has spoken publicly in the media to deny his son had anything to do with the murder.
“My son was really worried when the news came through that Kieran McManus had been shot and killed as he knew he was going to be the first one people would blame it on.
“ The PSNI do not have one shred of evidence that Michael was involved in this because my son had absolutely no involvement in it,” said Michael Snr.
Sally describes claims by her sons killers he was a drug dealer with multiple enemies as “absolute lies”.
“Kieran was a wonderful son, brother and father. He loved his family and we loved him. He was a brilliant father to his wee son and his killers have denied that child his daddy.
“I don’t know how they can live with themselves.”