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SHANKILL BUTCHER DIES FROM A HEART ATTACK; Alcoholic serial killer William Moore found dead at his home.

Byline: VICTORIA McMAHON

SHANKILL Butcher William Moore has died of a heart attack, it emerged last night.

The serial killer was involved in at least 19 murders in Belfast in the early 1970s.

His body was found at his home in the Shankill area of West Belfast with his dog by his side.

A source said: "He had been drinking heavily in recent years and was on about two bottles of vodka a day."

Moore, 59, was released from prison in 1998 under the Good Friday Agreement.

He was given 11 life sentences and served 19 years in prison.

Moore, who worked in a butcher's shop, provided the knives and meat cleavers used in the slaughter of up to 30 people.

The sadistic gang's terror came to an end after being identified by the only person who managed to escape their clutches alive - Gerard McLaverty.

It was Moore's home ground of the Shankill from where the gang launched its fouryear reign of terror under the leadership of Lenny Murphy.

Moore, a petty thief, had been recruited into the UVF gang by Murphy in 1972.

By 1975, he had become a cabbie and the gang roamed the streets in his taxi hunting down Catholic victims.

The gang's first victim was Francis Crossan. After abducting the 34-year-old father of two as he walked home Crossan was beaten to a pulp in the back of Moore's taxi before Murphy dragged him down an alleyway where he slashed his throat almost to the spine.

Other cut-throat victims included Joseph Quinn, 55, and 24-year-old Francis Rice.

The Butchers' rampage grew in ferocity - gang members mutilated the bodies of both Quinn and Rice leaving them unrecognisable to their loved ones. It was after March 1976 that Moore moved further up the ranking within the Butchers circle.

By then, Murphy was doing a 12-year stretch behind bars after he plea bargained down an attempted murder rap following a botched drive-by shooting of a Catholic woman.

To detract suspicion from Murphy for the Butcher killings, he ordered Moore to continue to wage their killing spree.

With Moore as leader, the gang slaughtered and hacked to death Stephen McCann, 21, Joseph Morrissey, 52, and 43year-old Francis Cassidy.

Another of the gang's victims was Cornelius Neeson, 49, who was beaten to death with a hatchet by Moore and "Big Sam" McAllister on the Cliftonville Road in August 1976.

A brother of Mr Neeson's said: "I saw the state of my brother's body after he was butchered on the street. I said, 'That is not my brother'. Even our mother would not have recognised him."

The Butchers' reign of terror came to an end when Gerard McLaverty identified McAllister and Benjamin Edwards after trawling the Shankill in a police car. Moore and other members were arrested and stood trial for their crimes and were given 42 life sentences - the most ever handed down in a single trial in British criminal history.

Murphy and two other high profile members escaped justice as the statements against them were retracted by the other Butchers for fear of the UVF leadership seeking revenge.

However, Murphy was executed by the Provos in 1982 in the Glencairn estate.

He murdered one disabled Protestant man, former UVF man Brian Smyth, 30, and tortured to death Catholic man Joseph Donegan as he tried to establish a new killing gang after his release from prison.

CAPTION(S):

EVIL Lenny Murphy led killers BRUTAL Body of Catholic victim Joseph Donegan lies in an entry off the Shankill Road William Moore helped lead 1970s murder spree REIGN OF TERROR
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 18, 2009
Words:597
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