September 16th, 2014

Man arrested in connection with Crossan murder: "I'm innocent."

Northern IrelandBy Paula Mackin
Tommy Diver
Tommy Diver

The man arrested in connection with the brutal murder of dissident Tommy Crossan insists he is an innocent man.

Tommy Diver was arrested just hours after the former CIRA boss was blasted to death last Friday afternoon and questioned by police for two days.

The 26-year-old has pleaded his innocence in the face of rumours that he was directly involved in the daylight assassination of the father of six last weekend.

But he insisted would not have killed the man he viewed as a close family friend.

“I would never kill him, he was my friend,” Diver told pals this week.

Diver, who has a conviction for possession of shotgun, took to Facebook upon his release to express his disgust at his detention and to repeatedly plead his innocence.

The Michael Jackson fan, who also posted a photo of himself in a Santa Claus posing pouch, branded his arrest in the early hours of last Saturday morning as an “absolute disgrace” claiming police harassment as the only reason behind his detention.

However the Sunday World can reveal police swooped on Diver immediately after Crossan’s execution because of his leading role in a newly formed dissident organisation, the Irish Volunteers and reported tensions between the pair.

Both Diver and Crossan were founding members of Irish Volunteers, which was stood down in recent weeks on the orders of Oglaigh na hEireann chiefs.

Crossan, who was a close friend of Belfast ONH Chief Carl Reilly, accepted the order unconditionally stating he was happy to focus on his criminal activities that included diesel smuggling.

However sources insist Diver was not so accepting of ONH’s demands and was furious at Crossan for his lack of dedication and support.

“Tommy Diver was furious that Oglaigh na hEireann has ordered the group to disband immediately; he was willing to put up a fight for the Irish Volunteers but he was the only one. 

 

“Everyone just accepted ONH’s order without question and that really pissed Diver off,” said one dissident source.

 

“Tommy and Crossan were friends for a long time, though there were rumours flying about, especially after Tommy’s arrest but no one really believes he had anything to do with Crossan’s death.

 

“It’s not his style and anyway his step father wouldn’t have allowed it,” said our source.

Crossan 43, was lifelong friends with Diver’s step father, republican Liam Hannaway, who has convictions for possession of explosives and ammunition. 

The pair remained close even after Crossan was expelled from the CIRA and publicly shunned by his onetime comrades, one of whom ordered the execution of the Belfast man 10 days ago.

Crossan was accused by his dissident colleagues of using the CIRA’s name to carry out robberies and pocketing the cash for himself.

He always denied these allegations as well as accusations that he was a police informer.

 Tommy Crossan

Around 200 mourners gathered last Thursday morning for his funeral, among them Diver and members of the Limerick faction of the CIRA, who remained loyal to Crossan despite a falling out with the Limerick leadership who also expelled him from their organisation.

The paramilitary style funeral took place at St John’s on the Falls Road. His coffin, which was draped in a tricolour with gloves and a beret placed on top, was flanked by masked men.

Just hours previously masked gunmen fired shots over his coffin outside his family home in the St James area of west Belfast.

DUP politicians have called on the PSNI to investigate the circumstances surrounding the grandfather of five’s burial.

Last week the Sunday World exclusively revealed the man behind the blood-soaked murder of the former top dissident was also responsible for the murder of pizza delivery driver Kieran McManus.

Kieran McManus, a 26-year-old father of one, was gunned down one year ago as a result of a street brawl where one man was seriously injured with a machete.

The man who ordered his killing had a personal grudge against the young man who delivered pizzas at the weekends to earn extra cash to support his five-year-old son.

He extracted his revenge by blasting him in the back with a shotgun as his younger brother looked on in horror last March.

The same man, who runs his own criminal gang and had links to both the INLA and the CIRA, once classified Tommy Crossan as a friend before a falling out over money that escalated into pure hatred over a two year period.

Last year in a statement claiming the murder of McManus, using the name of the CIRA, he vowed to kill Crossan.

One year later he was dead – shot four times in the upper body as he sat in a Portakabin on Belfast’s Springfield Road.

Last night police investigating his murder appealed once again for information about the red BMW car used in the shooting.

Police say want to know the movements of the car which was found burnt out in Beechmount Grove, a short distance from the murder scene at the Peter Pan complex on the Springfield Road

. “We are also keen to speak to anyone who saw any person or persons coming out of an alleyway which runs between Beechmount Grove and the Mica Street/Mica Drive junction between 3.45pm and 5.15pm and whether they saw any person or persons get into a vehicle during this time,” said investigating officer Superintendent Jonathan Roberts.

“We would also appeal to people in Beechmount Grove to tell us if they saw an old style red BMW coupe in the area prior to last Friday or if they saw the car being set on fire last Friday afternoon.”

“The car was slightly unusual in that the shading of the red on the front offside quarter panel, bonnet and bumper appears to be slightly lighter than the rest of the car. We would also be interested in talking to anyone who saw the car in the area over recent weeks.”

The registration number was OEZ9177.