revealed | 

How catching loyalist killers of Glenn Quinn could help unlock six other UDA murders

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie recently held talks with Glenn's brother and, pledging his support for the family, he urged anyone with information to come forward
Glenn Quinn

Glenn Quinn

Richard Sullivan

Catching Glenn Quinn's killers could unlock six other unsolved murders carried out by South East Antrim UDA, we can reveal.

Tragic Glenn, battered to death at his Carrickfergus home in January 2020, was the seventh victim to lose his life at the hands of the renegade unit - and none of the cases have been solved.

In each case the victim suffered a brutal and violent death, but there is increasing pressure on the organised crime gang. The organisation has been driven by internal splits and public fury over the Quinn murder has left them vulnerable.

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie recently held talks with Glenn's brother and, pledging his support for the family, he urged anyone with information to come forward.

This has increased the hopes of six other families in their fight for justice.

Unsolved killings include those of Mark Gourley, Tommy Hollran, Charlie Strain, Hugh Cameron, Simon Tang and Geordie Gilmore.

The killings were carried out between 1998 and January last year.

In March 2009, Mark Gourley vanished. A UDA member, he was abducted and, despite his body never being recovered, is believed to have been tortured and murdered.

It is widely accepted members of South East Antrim (SEA) carried out the killing. Initially it had been thought his remains had been buried deep in Woodburn Forest but during an inquest earlier this year police said they believed his body was dumped at sea.

Gourley was accused by the UDA of sex crimes, but the Sunday World understands the terror group's leadership had become increasingly alarmed at his erratic behaviour.

The 36-year-old had descended into a spiral of drug abuse and was often seen walking the town in his bare feet talking to himself.

He funded his drug taking by borrowing money from UDA loansharks - the very organisation that would take his life.

Gourley was known to be deeply in debt at the time of his disappearance but there was concern that in his vulnerable state he would be easy pickings for the police.

It was the fear he would implicate SEA members in serious crime - including murder - should he ever be questioned. It was enough to seal his fate.

Strain and Hollran were also accused of underage sex crimes - in their cases the allegations were entirely false and were simply an attempt to justify their deaths.

Charlie Strain died in 1998 when a UDA gang broke into his home in the Castlemara estate and attacked him with baseball bats over an unfounded allegation that he was a paedophile.

The 28-year-old meat plant worker moved to Carrickfergus in 1996 after being badly beaten by a loyalist gang in the Silverstream area of north Belfast. He had been accused of abusing a young girl - an accusation that he strongly denied and never faced any police action over.

A similar unproven sex claim was the catalyst for the murder of Tommy Hollran by the UDA in 2006.

The 49-year-old gravedigger fled Carrickfergus after being falsely accused of exposing himself to a teenage girl, but he would often make fleeting visits to his sister's house in the town despite the threats against him.

It was on one of these trips that he was cornered by a UDA gang who battered him to death.

Last year Detective Sergeant Jason Murphy said DNA evidence may link the Quinn, Strain and Hollran killings.

The other victims were Chinese takeaway owner Simon Tang, who was killed during a robbery.

The 28-year-old businessman was attacked as he left his Good Future takeaway business in June 1996. His attackers left him in a bloodied heap making off with the night's takings and their victim's watch.

Murder charges against two men were withdrawn as were charges against two women for providing false alibis. The case remains unsolved.

Five years earlier, the Carrickfergus UDA abducted Hugh Cameron outside the Joymount Arms bar in the town.

The 36-year-old was taken to a remote area near Glenarm where he was stabbed and beaten to death.

His body lay undiscovered for a month and had to be identified by dental records.

A post mortem found the murder victim had been stabbed in the chest, hit over the head with a blunt object and his throat had been cut.

Hugh - who had been under threat from paramilitaries - was beaten up at a wedding reception in the months before his murder.

At his inquest in 2007, a witness explained how he had been keeping an iron bar in his home for protection.

When SEA killed one of their own in 2017 they made solving a number of the organisation's murders less likely.

When former UDA commander Geordie Gilmore was shot dead as he drove along Pinewood Avenue in the town he took to his grave his involvement in at least three of the unsolved murders.

Gilmore had been locked in a bitter feud with SEA brigadier Gary Fisher.

The 47-year-old is understood to have been directly involved in the Gourley murder and is likely to have sanctioned the Strain and Cameron killings.

As SEA fractured and split, known members of the organisation carried out the savage killing of Glenn Quinn. UUP chief Doug Beattie said he was hopeful people will come forward with information that could provide comfort for a number of families.

"The beating to death of terminally ill Glenn Quinn by a gang of loyalist paramilitaries remains a vile unsolved murder nearly two years on," he said.

"The family's fight for justice has been punctuated by threats and intimidation that has left Glenn Quinn's mother, a 77-year-old widow, frightened while Glenn's brother Martin and his partner have had to leave the area due to threats."

He said solving the Quinn murder could unlock up to six other killings carried out by the organisation.

"Dealing with this issue now will move society forward.

"It is time we used more stick and less carrot when dealing with these criminals who intimidate, coerce and threaten communities who only want to get on with life in order to create a future for their children free from the malign grip of these criminals."

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