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Police a step closer to catching UDA killers in 1987 murder of Lorraine McCausland

Lorraine McCausland
Lorraine McCausland

Police are a step closer to catching the killers of Lorraine McCausland after new witnesses came forward following an appeal.

And the family of the rape and murder victim hope they won’t mark another anniversary without getting justice for her.

Lorraine’s body was found 30 years ago on March 8, 1987 dumped in a stream in north Belfast after she had suffered a rape and a brutal beating with a breeze block in a nearby club.

It was nearly two decades before her family learned her UDA killers had been recruited as Special Branch informers after her murder and then protected from prosecution. 

The family also raised the money for a top pathologist to review her autopsy report which revealed the horrific extent of her injuries – Lorraine was sexually assaulted and beaten on almost every part of her body. 

But they have been given new hope by the response to a PSNI appeal last November when police announced the Serious Crime Branch would reinvestigate the case.

Lorraine’s sister Cathy McIlvenny (inset below) hopes the net is closing on the killers after significant new information was passed to the police.

“A lot of new people have come forward that police had no idea were in the club that night and there are still more out there,” says Cathy.

“The police have said they are really happy with the response, that it was better than they expected. 

“The information they are getting is giving them other new leads so the investigation is picking up the pace at the minute and we’re optimistic.”

The mum-of-three admits the family never thought they would get this far, and it’s only been their dogged determination that has kept the spotlight on Lorraine.

Her mother Elizabeth, known as Renee, went to her grave in 2002 without ever finding out who had attacked her daughter, a hard-working single mum from Forthriver Crescent who supported sons Stuart and Craig by running a local mobile shop.

In a further blow to the family Craig was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries in July 2005 at the age of 20.

Cathy says her mother never talked about Lorraine’s death because it was too painful for her, but dad Charlie went to the Police Ombudsman to complain about the original RUC investigation within weeks of Renee’s death. 

He never saw justice for Lorraine before his death in 2005 and the family has never received any report from the Ombudsman.

Their hopes were also built up by a Historical Enquiries Team investigation which uncovered the recruitment of Lorraine’s killers and informants, but no arrests were ever made.

The family believe witnesses are coming forward now because it’s clear Lorraine’s death was a sexually motivated murder and the brutal attack on the defenceless young woman still causes revulsion.

“One of the English detectives we spoke to said if this happened now it would be treated as a category one murder with about 200 police on it, and there are around two a year in England,” says Cathy.

“People were disgusted at what happened and 30 years on they are still disgusted. They could be living next door to the people who raped and murdered Lorraine and not know what her killers are capable of.

“This attack wasn’t politically motivated. It was purely a sexual attack, there was no other reason, and people know that.

“It’s why witnesses are prepared to come forward now, and there isn’t the same fear of paramilitaries. I’m sure it has torn people up inside and we hope Lorraine’s murder will play on their conscience,” she says.

Despite the horror of learning the truth about her sister’s murder, Cathy says the 30th anniversary last week was harder than all the milestones they have missed. 

She says the little things are the most painful.

“It’s the things you take for granted that you miss. The birthdays, going out together, going for a walk together.”

But they have also had to cope with the horrendous details of Lorraine’s final hours.

Pathologist Nat Cary, who worked on the Soham murders of schoolgirls Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells, was asked by the family in 2014 to look again at

Lorraine’s autopsy report. He said she had clearly been sexually assaulted in the Tyndale club, and her level of intoxication would have cast doubt on her ability to consent to sex. 

Lorraine’s injuries included a fractured skull, ruptures to her lungs, liver and eyes, and her ear was almost torn off.

“Families shouldn’t have to do this, to go through paperwork and autopsy reports. It’s horrendous to do that and then to have to fight for justice,” says Cathy.

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