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MIAMI SHOWBAND KILLER DIES AT 70; UVF murderer Somerville found dead from cancer in squalid flat.

Byline: JOHN CASSIDY

A CONVICTED loyalist killer jailed over the notorious Miami Showband massacre 40 years ago has died a frail, cancer-ridden recluse.

John James Somerville was found dead by a friend in his squalid upstairs flat off the Shankill Road in West Belfast on Monday.

His cause of death was recorded as renal cell carcinoma - cancer of the kidney.

Somerville lived a lonely existence after the UVF severed all links with him when he opposed their 1994 ceasefire.

But loyalist sources said the 70-year-old had once been a key member of the UVF gang which ambushed The Miami Showband in July 1975.

And he was also involved in the May 1974 Monaghan bombings in which seven people were murdered on the same day as bombs killed a further 26 in Dublin.

The Miami Showband were returning to Dublin following a gig in Northern Ireland when they were stopped at a bogus checkpoint set up by rogue members of the UDR who were also running a loyalist killer gang.

Band members were made to line up at the side of a Co Down road while attempts were made to hide a 10lb bomb on their bus. The plan was to let them get back on and drive to Newry where the device would explode.

But the device went off prematurely, killing two of the bombers - Somerville's UDR soldier brother Wesley and Horace Boyle, both leading figures in the UVF's Mid Ulster brigade.

The remaining members of the terror gang, including John Somerville, then opened fire on the musicians.

Lead singer Fran O'Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy died in a hail of gunfire.

Two others - Des McAlea and Stephen Travers - were injured but miraculously survived.

Following the horrific attack, survivors confirmed the UVF gang tried to wipe out the remaining band members, firing round after round into their limp bodies.

Two other UDR/UVF men, Raymond "Red Raymie" Crozier and Thomas McDowell, were sentenced the following year to long jail terms for their roles in the murders.

Somerville was arrested in September 1980 for the showband massacre and the murder of Catholic Patrick Falls and was jailed for 18 years.

A UVF source in Belfast said: "John carried out quite a few murders for the organisation for which he was never convicted.'' Some of those murders had in fact been attributed to the notorious UVF gang boss Robin "The Jackal" Jackson.

This included being the triggerman who shot dead SDLP member Denis Mullen on September 1, 1975. A number of loyalists were convicted of Mr Mullen's murder, including Garfield Beattie.

The source added: "Nobody fingered John for this or other murders because they didn't want to implicate him to the police for something he had not been investigated for.

At his trial in 1981, Somerville shouted: "I wouldn't be here [in the dock] if I'd agreed to become a police agent."

His outburst was said to have been direct reference to the extent of security force collusion in the activities of the UVF in parts of Mid Ulster and Co Armagh.

This week, Somerville's emaciated remains were taken from his home in Riga Street to be buried beside his elder brother Wesley in a family graveyard plot in Newmills, a few miles outside of Crossmaglen in South Armagh.

Funeral arrangements were shrouded in secrecy, known only to close family.

There were very few newspaper death insertions for the twice-divorced sectarian killer.

One simply said: "Summerville [sic] John - Passed away January 12, 2015. Beloved friend. Will be sadly missed by Marion, Lesley and Mark. Home at last. Psalm ch. 116. 15.'' Sources said he lived as a virtual recluse, speaking only to neighbours.

One said: "He wouldn't even speak to his old comrades."

irish@mgn.co.uk

John carried out murders for the UVF. He was never convicted UVF SOURCE belfast yesterday

CAPTION(S):

Killed: UVF bomber Wesley Somerville

Terror: 33 people died in 1974 bombings

Destruction: Talbot Street in Dublin after UVF blast

Bloodbath: wreckage of the Miami Showband's minibus after UVF attack in 1975
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Jan 18, 2015
Words:677
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