The shocked family of murder victim Brian ‘Brick’ McIlhagga are mystified as to why he was attacked.
Brian died after being cruelly beaten with iron bars and blasted in the legs with a shotgun as he visited nearby Ballymoney.
The 42-year-old plasterer, who was separated, lived at home with his dad Ronnie and mum Jennifer at Cromkill Road near Ballymena, but in recent times had been travelling to Ballymoney to visit mum-of-four Ashley Craig (32).
Mr McIlhagga, who had a wide circle of friends in Ballymena, is survived by his parents, brother Pete and sister Susan, as well as his five children aged 21, 17, 12-year-old twins and another child aged 10.
Ronnie McIlhagga , a former team leader at JTI said: “Brian lived at home with us and he had a family of his own but he and the girl had more or less parted company. He always maintained he was just friends with the girl in Ballymoney.”
Mr McIlhagga added that police liaison officers had been assisting his family but they are anxious to learn more.
“What this is all about I have not a clue, I just do not know. We would just ask the question: why?”
Mr McIlhagga said the family were shocked and bewildered at what has happened and that his son’s children have been “devastated”.
Pete McIlhagga said social media was ablaze with tributes to his brother and he said they had come from far and near.
He said: “Brian was a great Liverpool supporter. He was very popular and had a very wide circle of friends and we discovered that especially today.”