Murder victim was ‘always up for a laugh’

Raymond Johnston
Raymond Johnston
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The man who was shot dead in front of his partner and young child in west Belfast last night has been described as a “cheerful guy” who was “always up for a laugh”.

Police said yesterday they have not yet been able to establish a motive for the murder of Raymond Johnston.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 14th February 2018''The scene at Glenbawn Avenue in the Poleglass area of Belfast where a man in his late 20's was shot and killed on Tuesday evening.  The man was killed after the attackers entered his house and shot him with a shotgun. ''Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 14th February 2018''The scene at Glenbawn Avenue in the Poleglass area of Belfast where a man in his late 20's was shot and killed on Tuesday evening. The man was killed after the attackers entered his house and shot him with a shotgun. ''Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

The 28-year-old was murdered in his home in Glenbawn Avenue at 8pm on Tuesday night. He had been watching TV with his partner when a gunman – carrying what is understood to have been a shotgun – entered the house and shot him dead.

Police confirmed an 11-year-old child was also in the room when Mr Johnston’s murder occurred.

Neighbour Stacy Flynn said his death has come as a “horrible shock”.

She said Mr Johnston was an incredibly helpful man who had helped her to set up her women’s clothes shop on the Glen Road.

She described him as “a good friend and an amazing partner and father”.

To the person or persons who killed him she said: “You may have taken Ray from his family but you’ll never be half the man he was. Our memories of such a cheerful guy will last forever.”

A number of tributes were paid to 28-year-old Raymond Johnston on social media, with many of his friends recalling good times they’d spent together over the years.

Paying tribute to Mr Johnston on Facebook, Grace Vella Teggart, said he was “such a lovely fella” who was “always up for a laugh”.

Stephen Gorman described him as “a great friend and gentleman”. He said he “will never forget some of the craic had over the many, many years”.

Coleen Reilly said: “I hope wherever you are now you are watching over your entire family circle especially your beautiful wee man who’s now left heartbroken.”

Addressing rumours surrounding the motivation for Mr Johnston’s murder, SDLP Councillor Tim Attwood said police should be allowed to conduct their investigation rather than “give credence to speculation”.

Mr Attwood said the community was “united in shock and anger”, adding simply that “murder is wrong” regardless of the circumstances.

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Geoff Boyce said yesterday: “It is just unacceptable that someone would produce a weapon and open fire in any circumstances, however it is particularly chilling that this attack took place in front of his partner and an 11-year-old child in his own living room.”

He said detectives were keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed a male wearing a blue coat with fur around the hood make off from the scene and get into a black car with tinted windows.

He added: “While a definitive motive for the shooting has not been established we are exploring a number of possible lines of enquiry.

“We all have a part to play to ensure that the community in Poleglass has the time to come to terms with what has happened here and to ensure that those responsible for this murder are brought to justice.”

It is understood prior to moving to Poleglass Mr Johnston had been living in Crumlin.