24 November 2005

Convicted UDA men to face grilling on sectarian murder

Daily Ireland

Ciarán Barnes

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Loyalist murder victim James McMahon

Two Lisburn loyalists convicted of hiding a huge Ulster Defence Association (UDA) weapons haul could have crucial information about the murder of a Catholic in the city, Daily Ireland has learned.
Detectives are understood to be planning to grill Darren Kenneth Grant and Anthony Madden about the sectarian killing of James McMahon in Lisburn two years ago.
The 21-year-old was bludgeoned to death by a gang of masked loyalists on November 20, 2003 as he walked home after a night out. Members of the UDA are believed to have carried out the murder.
Less than 24-hours after Mr McMahon’s death, and under orders from the UDA, Darren Grant (27) and Anthony Madden (24) moved a stockpile of weapons to what they believed was a safe house in the Hillhall estate in Lisburn.
The arsenal consisted of six sub-machine-guns, 2,000 rounds of ammunition, three pipe bombs, blank firing weapons, accelerant powder, weapons cleaning materials and pick axe and sledge hammer handles.
Madden returned to the house on November 22 with a third man, reminding the owner that something had been hidden in his attic which he was to say nothing about.
Two weeks later the PSNI took the homeowner in for questioning about the McMahon murder.
He admitted that something had been hidden in his attic by loyalists and a follow up search unearthed the weapons haul.
Grant and Madden were later arrested and charged with possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives with intent to endanger life.
The pair were sentenced to eight years in prison at Belfast crown court last week. During their trial they admitted to acting as “bagmen” for the UDA.
Daily Ireland understands that after realising its members had murdered Mr McMahon, UDA bosses ordered a number of arms dumps in Lisburn to be cleared.
The organisation feared the PSNI could learn of the weapons’ location if a UDA member suspected of involvement in the McMahon killing broke during questioning.
A senior Lisburn loyalist said: “The McMahon murder wasn’t sanctioned, but UDA men were involved.
“The cops were going to crack down on us after that and the weapons had to be moved.”
During PSNI interviews Grant and Madden consistently refused to reveal the name of the UDA chief who ordered them to move the weapons.
It is understood this paramilitary holds the key to discovering the identities of the three men who beat Mr McMahon to death. Detectives are hoping either Grant or Madden will agree to give evidence against this man.
A spokeswoman for the PSNI said its officers are still actively pursuing Mr McMahon’s killers.
A total of four people have been questioned about the murder, however no one has been charged.

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