Investigation into Mark Gourley: Loyalist paramilitary organization murdered missing man and dumped his body at sea, coroner concludes
A paramilitary organization murdered missing loyalist Mark Gourley 12 years ago and dumped his body at sea, an investigation has found.
the 36-year-old, nicknamed Judge, was last seen leaving his parents’ home in Glengormley on March 7, 2009. His body has never been found.
After two days of witness statements at Banbridge Court, Coroner Paddy McGurgan discovered that Mr Gourley was killed by paramilitaries between March 7 and 10 and his body was thrown into the sea.
Previously a member of the UDA in the 1990s, Mr. Gourley was not active at the time of his disappearance and had a long history of mental health and substance abuse issues.
The PSNI stated a variety of possible reasons for his death, but the coroner could not say for sure which one was the correct one.
These included an incident a week before his death when Mr Gourley kicked an individual’s door and threatened to reveal his past with the UDA in southeast Antrim.
Another possibility was that in the early hours of March 7, Mr. Gourley broke into a house in Carrickfergus owned by an individual known as Person A.
He was discovered in a guest room in a confused state trying to find his shoes.
Rumors also circulated that he had an unhealthy interest in children, that the UDA feared he intended to expose their activities, and that he had drugs or other financial debts to people. known.
The coroner discovered that on the evening of March 6 to March 7, Mr. Gourley was suffering from a mental health crisis.
“He had confronted a named person the week before his disappearance, threatening to divulge information relating to the UDA,” he said.
“He was particularly angry with his parents who were forced to leave their home (having left Carrickfergus under threat from the paramilitaries in November 2008).
“He walked into Person A’s house in the early hours of March 7, 2009, and oddly, he said he was looking for his shoes, which confirmed the idea that he was suffering from a mental health crisis.
“In this property there were a number of children and this may have given credence to rumors regarding his sexual interest in children.
“Although I find this particular aspect to be completely unfounded.”
Testimonies prior to the inquest revealed that Mr Gourley was charged with indecent assault on two young children in 1993, but had never been charged.
The coroner added that Mr Gourley suffered from severe drug addiction and regularly borrowed money to support it and therefore it was entirely possible that he owed money to unknown people.
“I note that the deceased died on a date between March 7 and 10, 2009 and that he was killed by members of a paramilitary organization,” he said.
“Information received by the police suggests that he was abducted by members of a paramilitary organization and beaten to death, his body then being taken to sea on a boat and eliminated.
“There are several possible factors that could have led to his death … based on the evidence, I cannot determine the real reason (s).
“I am convinced that he was killed in my coronal district, but I cannot identify precisely where.
“I further find that his body was thrown into the sea.”
He also noted that evidence from Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy, head of the PSNI’s major investigative team, said the fallout with the person a week before his death and the UDA fear he states his activities were the most likely hypotheses, but that he could not be certain.
A legal representative for the Gourley family thanked the court, saying the findings would be of great comfort to them.
“The only aspect that has come up repeatedly is that neither of their parents are alive from hearing your findings this morning.”
Mr. McGurgan said: “I hope we can make a little closure. I appreciate that there will never be a shutdown until Mark’s body is discovered, if that is possible. “
Adding to a new PSNI call for information, he said: “As a coroner and as a judge, I echo this call.
“It is clear to me that someone or more than one knows exactly the circumstances in which Mark Gourley died.
“I believe that eventually that person or these people will succumb to the guilt of what they know and eventually come forward.
“But I would urge them to do it ASAP and end the Gourley family.”
A criminal investigation into Mr Gourley’s death remains open, a number of people have already been arrested and questioned but no one has ever been charged.
In his testimony earlier this week, Detective Superintendent Murphy said there is currently no active line of inquiry and no senior investigating officer attached to the case.
Calling for new information, he promised the family that the PSNI was “absolutely ready” to seize any opportunity to bring Mr. Gourley’s killers to justice.