Murder victim Jim Donegan had ‘a number of enemies’, say police

Jim Donegan who was shot dead in west Belfast
Jim Donegan who was shot dead in west Belfast
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A father-of-three who was shot dead outside a west Belfast school had “a number of enemies”, a senior PSNI detective has said.

Jim Donegan was slain by a lone gunman as he sat in his Porsche Panamera sports car waiting to collect his 13-year-old son from St Mary’s Christian Brothers’ Grammar School on the Glen Road on December 4.

Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray said Mr Donegan was known to police, but declined to elaborate on the details.

Mr Murray, head of the PSNI’s serious crime branch, also revealed the killer used a semi-automatic pistol.

He added that examination of the weapon, along with and bullet heads and cartridge cases recovered from the scene of the murder, have garnered “a measure of information”.

“Any information that we gain from that, that is the forensic information or intelligence that will drive investigation forward,” he told the BBC.

When asked if the weapon had been used in any previous murder, Mr Murray responded: “I know, but I am not willing to answer that question because I do not want to educate the killers and their accomplices as to what we know.”

Quizzed about the motive for the killing, Mr Murray also said he did not want to discuss it.

He added: “I think it is fair to say that Jim Donegan would have had a number of enemies. There are a number of different groups and people who may have had an adverse interest in Jim Donegan, who wanted to hurt him.

“They’re all out there and they’re all listening to every word I say and they’re all trying to work out ‘where are they, are they close, are they far, have they got the right people, have they not?’

“I’m sorry, we’re not going to educate them in that matter.”

At the time of the murder, media reports linked Mr Donegan to the drugs trade, but Mr Murray said he did not want to discuss this as it touched upon motive for the killing.

“Mr Donegan was known to the police, but I’m not going to go into the details of how he was known to the police,” he said.

Police have said the involvement of dissident republicans in the murder is one possible option they are considering.

Mr Murray said that murder cases involving terrorist or paramilitary groupings were “particularly difficult” to solve.

We may never make that evidential threshold, but goodness gracious me we will give it our utmost,” he added.