Belfast axe murderer still on loose one year after brutal attack

Basil McAfee was found dead by his mother in the house in north Belfast a year ago
Basil McAfee was found dead by his mother in the house in north Belfast a year ago

An axe murderer is still at large one year after killing a man in Belfast in a frenzied attack, police have warned.

Detectives have renewed their appeal for help to catch whoever was responsible for the death of 50-year-old Basil McAfee in the north of the city.

Mr McAfee was found by his mother at his home in Henderson Avenue at lunchtime on Friday December 20.

The last public sighting of him was a day earlier in an off-licence on the nearby Cavehill Road.

PSNI detective chief inspector John McVea, who is leading the investigation, said: “It is a year since Basil died and his death has slipped somewhat from public consciousness. But it remains an enduring heartache for his family – his mother, siblings and his grown-up children.

“They are about to face a second Christmas without Basil and without knowing why this happened to him and who is responsible.

“Basil’s murder is still being actively investigated by detectives. He suffered a violent death at the hands of an assailant who was probably wielding an axe and a long-bladed knife.

“For as long as that individual remains at large, they remain a danger to others in the community.”

Over the last 12 months detectives have made three arrests in the case, with each individual later released.

Mr McVea said police have built up a picture of Mr McAfee and his lifestyle.

“Our major investigation team continues to follow a number of definite lines of inquiry but we need help from a small number of people,” he said.

“Last year we issued CCTV images of Basil in an off-licence on the Cavehill Road taken at 4pm on Thursday December 19. We have spoken to a number of people who saw him alive at his home in Henderson Avenue later that day but we believe there are others who visited Basil who have yet to come forward. We need to know who he was with.

“This was a ferocious attack. A number of items, including money, were taken from the house. Although we believe the attack was not random but focused on Basil, whoever did this is a danger to others in the community while still at large.”

As well as reissuing the CCTV image of Mr McAfee in the off-licence and a photo taken of him at a social event in 2012, officers released a photo of the murder scene – the living room of his house.

“I appreciate this is difficult for Basil’s family as they face a second Christmas without him and without answers,” said Mr McVea.

“For their sake and for justice for Basil, I am asking anyone with information about Basil’s movements, who saw him on the night of Thursday December 19 last year or who saw any suspicious activity in or around Henderson Avenue just off the Cavehill Road that evening, to contact detectives at Seapark police complex on the non-emergency number 101 or alternatively people can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”