Page last updated at 22:05 GMT, Wednesday, 11 February 2009

City shooting was 'brutal murder'

Forensic experts at the scene of the murder in Prehen on Wednesday
Mr McConnell was shot at his house in Prehen

Police have described the murder of Jim McConnell in Londonderry as "cold, clinical and brutal".

Mr McConnell, 38, was shot by two masked men in his house in Woodland Avenue in Prehen just after midnight on Wednesday.

Two other men who were in the house at the time were unhurt.

Police said they were investigating the possibility that the murder may have been drugs-related and may have been carried out by dissident republicans.

It is believed the attackers drove off in the direction of the city.

First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness condemned the murder, describing those responsible as cowardly and having nothing to offer society.

"The people of Northern Ireland have moved on and will see this shooting for the cowardly evil act that it is," Mr Robinson said.

Mr McGuinness said there was "no justification for this act".

"These people must be stopped and I would urge anyone with information to bring it to the police," he said.

Parish priest Father Joe Gormley said Mr McConnell's father Hugh "was in a very sad place".

"To his family, Jim was a son and a brother, and that's how I remember him," he said.

Forensics expert at murder scene
Forensics experts have been examining the scene
SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan said it was a "particularly brutal attack".

"This incident is an affront to the local community who want violence such as this to stay in the past," he said.

DUP assembly member William Hay said he believed dissident republicans carried out the murder.

"That is worrying because you still have organisations out there who think the only way they can solve the problem of Northern Ireland is by killing someone and taking the law into their own hands.

"They don't have any respect for law and order themselves," he said.

Sinn Féin assembly member Raymond McCartney said such actions had no support in the community.

"The people in this city have overwhelmingly shown their support for the republican project as it's going forward, and if these people are trying to step in to fill any vacuum which they feel exists then they have had their answer.

"So if this is coming from a group that calls themselves republicans then there is no support for their actions," he said.

'Shocked'

A neighbour of the dead man said he was shocked.

"I was awakened this morning around about 2am by the police and they told me that the man had been shot," he said.

"I haven't really slept since, to be honest it's just unbelievable, it's a really, really quiet neighbourhood, you just don't expect that."

The mayor of Derry, Councillor Gerard Diver, condemned the murder.

"It certainly looks like a particularly grotesque and brutal shooting by masked men, something that harks back to the worst days of the Troubles," he said.

"My reaction is one of complete horror, people will be shocked to the core about this."

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SEE ALSO
Dissidents blamed for city murder
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