Murdered man spoke of death threat against him

Stephen Carson Stephen Carson
By Brónach Ní Thuama

The man who was shot dead in South Belfast last night told the Andersonstown News last October that his life was under threat.

28-year-old Stephen Carson was shot in a house at Walmer Street in the Ormeau Road area at about 10.45pm on Thursday evening as the father of two was having a meal with his partner and nine-year-old son.

Police say that “at least three men carrying a hammer and a shotgun burst into the house”.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News in October Mr Carson from Clonard said he had just been released from Magilligan prison where he had served two-and-a-half years for robbery.

“I’ve just been released from Magilligan,” he said. “Just before I was getting out the prison liaison officer told me that a threat against my life had been given to Base 2 (a prisoners’ support group) from the West Belfast INLA.

“I don’t know why or where this is coming from and all I want is to get on with my life, get back on my feet. I can’t even stay with my mum, I’m staying with a friend, keeping my head down as everything now is put on hold.

“I can’t go nowhere, I can’t see my kids. I just want to ask those behind the threat to make themselves known, to come forward.”

Mr Carson said that he believed those behind the threat were members of the criminal gang led by former INLA members linked to the April 2013 murder in Kennedy Way of 26-year-old Kieran McManus, who was a close friend of his.

“There was an altercation in Turf Lodge a few years back and maybe this is where all of this is coming from,” he said.

The Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP), the political wing of the INLA, denied that the threat against Mr Carson had come from them and said that they had assured him that this was the case.

The officer leading the investigation, Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes from Serious Crime Branch, said: “Our main line of enquiry, but not our only line of enquiry, is that Stephen was shot as part of a criminal feud. We do not believe at this stage there was any paramilitary involvement nor do we believe this was sectarian.

SDLP South Belfast MLA Claire Hanna condemned those behind the murder.

“I want to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this vicious murder of a man in south Belfast last night,” she said. “There has never been any place for this kind of shocking violence on the streets of our city.”