Murdered UDA man John ‘Bonzer’ Boreland, who was in his mid-40s, had long been a close associate of north Belfast loyalist Andre Shoukri.
Aged 46, he had a previous conviction for extortion and was shot in the thigh – he said by UDA members – in an attack in Belfast two years ago.
Long based in north Belfast, he leaves two sons, a daughter, a fiancee, a sister and his mother and father.
Ten years ago the UDA expelled Shoukri after a bitter fallout over criminality. But within a year Boreland and Shoukri were each jailed for nine years after a blackmail and intimidation plot using a firearm against a pub owner in the name of the UDA.
The PSNI said the operation “had the effect of dismantling the leadership of the UDA in north Belfast”.
In August 2014 three prominent loyalists appeared in court charged with the attempted murder of Shoukri and Boreland, who was shot in the thigh during the attack near the Ballysillan Road in Belfast.
Those charged were John Bunting, 47, from Conlig, John Howcroft, 46, from Belfast and Darren McCalister, 31, from Belfast.
In September 2015 a prosecution lawyer withdrew the charges without explanation. All three men had denied involvement in any shooting.
Boreland said the shooting took place after a chance encounter with up to 10 UDA members and insisted that neither he nor Shoukri had any interest in UDA in-fighting.
North Belfast UPRG said on its Facebook site yesterday that officers and members “extend our deepest sympathies to the heartbroken family of John Boreland”, adding that “big Bonzer” was “admired and respected by many”.
Some social media posters – apparently republicans – gloated over the murder, but a supporter hit back, branding them as sectarian. He said of loyalist violence during the Troubles that “both sides were killing tit-for-tat” and added that Boreland “was also a big part in the peace process to end the killing so let him rest in peace”.