Northern Ireland

Murdered Craigavon couple 'knew their killer'

A couple found shot dead in their County Armagh home knew their killer, police believe.

Husband and wife, Hugh McGeough, 56, and Jacqueline McGeough, 44, were murdered at their Legahory Court home, Craigavon, at about 1100 GMT on Monday.

But it was not until 1800 GMT, when their son called at the house, that he found them both dead.

Police believe the couple let whoever killed them into their home.

Their son had called at the house at tea-time on Monday after he became concerned that his mother was not answering the telephone.

He found their bodies.

A motive for the killings has not yet been confirmed but it is understood that police are investigating a possible drugs connection.

BBC NI Home Affairs Correspondent Vincent Kearney said Mr McGeough has been described as "a well-known and prolific drug-dealer".

The house where the murders happened stands isolated in the middle of a field. It is fitted with security cameras and a number of security lights. The doors and windows are fitted with bulletproof glass.

Speculation

"Quite clearly, Hugh McGeough was someone who felt under threat," Mr Kearney said.

"There has been speculation that this might be linked to drugs. Hugh McGeough served a nine-year sentence for his part in the killing of Peter McNally, a 19 year old shot about a mile away from the house in Craigavon in 2001.

"That killing was said to be part of a drugs war - a feud between rival drugs gangs. There is certainly a lot of speculation about this and it is a line that the police are pursuing."

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Harkness said the couple had returned from Letterkenny at about 1330 GMT on Sunday.

"They were visited late on Sunday evening and we believe they were alive and well until approximately 1100 GMT yesterday," he said.

"It is my belief that they were murdered at about 1100 GMT in their own home. I have reason to believe they may have known the person or persons who murdered them."

Image caption The couple were murdered at Legahory Court in Craigavon

Meanwhile, CCTV footage from security cameras at the murder scene and close by, could prove vital evidence for the police investigation.

SDLP councillor Michael McGoldrick, who chairs Craigavon District Policing Partnership, lives close to the scene of Monday night's shooting and said it was "completely out of character for the area".

He appealed for anyone with information on the murder to come forward.

"I am receiving phone calls and texts from right across the borough and outside," he said.

"People are stunned by what has happened.

"These murderers have to be stopped and put behind bars for a very long time."

Independent councillor Kieran Corr spoke to relatives of the couple.

"All I know is that they have lived in Craigavon most of their lives," he said.

"I didn't know them personally but I know a few family relatives, I know the niece of the murdered woman and she's devastated by what has happened.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the relatives of the couple."

Detectives investigating the murder have appealed to anyone with information to contact them at Mahon Road police station on 028 38 366366.