A 60-year old Derry man who is accused of shooting a man four times in a flat in the centre of the city denied he knew the victim and claimed he wouldn’t “hurt anybody”, a court heard today yesterday.
Kieran Edward Joseph McLaughlin, from Elaghmore Park in Derry, is accused of executing 35-year old Barry McCrory, who was shot dead in his Shipquay Street flat on October 10, 2013.
The father of six - who was arrested in the early hours of October 16 after being located lying under a car in the Rossnagalliagh area of Derry - denies the murder and further denies possessing a sawn-off, 12 bore double barrelled shotgun, shotgun cartridges, a Mauser self-pistol and ammunition with intent to endanger life and possessing a imitation Walther pistol.
However, he pleaded guilty last week to possessing the shotgun, pistol and ammunition in suspicious circumstances on the same dates.
During the fourth day of the Diplock non-jury trial which is being held at Belfast Crown Court, transcripts of police interviews with McLaughlin following his arrest were read out in court.
McLaughlin was repeatedly asked during police interviews if he knew Mr McCrory and he repeatedly replied that he didn’t know him but he had heard about his murder. He told officers he read about the murder in the Derry Journal, that he had seen Mr McCrory’s family on TV and that they were people in “anguish and pain.”
He consistently denied knowing the murdered man, telling police “I don’t know who he is, I don’t know anything about him.” He also told the investigating officers “ it read about the tragedy in the papers and I seen (SIC) it on TV ... I seen (SIC) the grief of the family. I felt sorry for them.”
The accused was also asked about seeing his own picture in the papers in connection to the murder. He responded by saying that despite people thinking he had something to do with it, he didn’t. He also said he thought “the RUC or PSNI assumed that I had hurt or killed or executed that person”, but he wasn’t the “hitman” responsible.
McLaughlin was then questioned about the circumstances surrounding his arrest, which came following a five-day manhunt. He was eventually located under a car parked close to his daughter’s house.
When asked about his arrest and why he was lying under a car, he said during interview “I was staying out of the road of a drone in the sky. I was just in a dark place, I didn’t know where I was. I was scared and anxious about my family.”
He also said he thought he was going to be killed by the SAS and that he had friends killed by the SAS in the past. Telling the officers that he was “not guilty of anything”, McLaughlin that in the moments prior to his arrest he heard helicopters and police jeeps, and that he feared for his family.
McLaughlin was also asked if he had been taking his medication at the time of his arrest, to which he replied he “hoped” he had.
During the interviews, he was also quizzed about being in possession of a handgun. He said he had it to protect both himself and his family. McLaughlin again mentioned the SAS and said he had the gun “because I am a dissident or something like that there.”
When questioned about this further, McLaughlin told police “there is nothing wrong with being a dissident but I am not a dissident.” He also said he supported the peace process.
The interview ended with McLaughlin telling police “I am not guilty of anything. I wouldn’t hurt anyone intentionally.”
The trial is due to resume next week.