Murder victim beaten and shot once in leg

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Detectives from Serious Crime Branch investigating the murder of a 42 year old man in Ballymoney last night have issued an appeal for information.

The alarm was raised just before half past ten last night, when a 32 year old woman who lives at 10 Riverview Park in Ballymoney made a 999 call to police.

Detectives believe that at least three armed and masked men had burst into the house, assaulted the woman in the kitchen and forced her to lie on the floor.

The officer leading the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Michael Harvey, said: “Her friend Brian McIlhagga was dragged from the kitchen, down the hallway and out through the front door of the house. He was beaten and then shot once in the leg outside the house. Tragically, he died at the scene as a result of the injuries inflicted during the attack. We are waiting for a post mortem examination to take place to determine the exact cause of death.

“This was a vicious, brutal and sustained attack on a man who was visiting his friend. It is unusual for a town like Ballymoney and I understand how the community is shocked by what has happened.

“Although a formal identification has not taken place, we believe the victim is 42 year old Brian McIlhagga from Ballymena. Mr McIlhagga was a father of five and worked as a plasterer. He was a friend of the woman who lived in the house at Riverview Park and had been a visitor in recent months. The woman has four children, all under 13, and they were in the house last night.

“I am appealing to anyone who saw or heard anything in the Riverview Park area between 10pm and 11pm last night to contact police. I want to hear from anyone who saw men or vehicles moving in and around the area. Anyone with any information can contact detectives at the special incident room at Ballymoney police station on the non-emergency number 101 or provide information anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”