17 April 2006

Loyalist hitman is asked to murder Notarantonios


(Catherine Morrison, Irish News)

A west Belfast family last night (Friday) said police told them that loyalist paramilitaries have been offered a "large sum of money" to kill one of them.

Victor Notarantonio jnr and his father Victor snr said they received the latest – and most sinister – death threat yesterday, the most recent in a series since the murder of Gerard Devlin in February.

Four members of the Notarantonio family have been charged with murder and affray in connection with the fatal stabbing of Mr Devlin.

They claimed that police visited them at their Gortnamona home to pass on the information.

In a new twist, officers told the men they had received intelligence that overtures had been made towards loyalist paramilitaries in a bid to hire a hitman to shoot either man "or a member of his family" dead.

The warning states: "Unknown loyalist paramilitaries have been offered a large amount of money to shoot Victor Notarantonio or a member of his family.

"You are advised to seek advice on and take steps to protect your personal security and that of your family."

A police spokesman refused to comment on the claims.

"We do not comment on the security of an individual," he said.

"However, where we believe that someone needs to review their personal security we would always seek to inform them."

Mr Devlin was stabbed to death in an attack in Whitecliff Parade on February 3 as he arrived at his partner's home to collect his children.

It is understood his killing was linked to a long-running feud.

In the aftermath of his murder the Devlin family also received death threats.

Following the killing there were more than 100 incidents in the Ballymurphy area including arson attacks and intimidation.

Victor Notarantonio jnr's business was damaged in a suspected arson attack. He later sold the shop in Ballymurphy.

Mr Devlin's aunt, Bernadette O'Rawe, appealed for no further trouble and condemned those responsible but the attacks continued.

Numerous properties belonging to the extended Notarantonio family were petrol bombed and slogans were painted on the walls of their homes.

Last night Victor jnr's wife Kerry said the death threat was the most frightening the family had ever received.

The family have sold their Gortnamona home and are planning to move abroad.

"This is the third [threat] we have received but this is the most serious and specific to date," she said.

"They said they were going to kill one of the family – it could be me or one of my kids.

"It's innocent people that are going to get hurt.

"I've had to take my kids out of school since this started.

"The police advised us to take steps to try and protect ourselves but how can you?"

April 17, 2006

This article appeared first in the April 15, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

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