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EAST Belfast UDA boss Jim Gray was under arrest last night - just hours after the brutal murder of an LVF man on his patch.

The victim, gunned down off the leafy Ravenhill Road late on Friday night, was a prominent member of the Portadown LVF, Geoffrey 'Greyhound' Gray - ironically also known as Jim.

The killing occurred just before midnight in Ravenhill Avenue, when the victim was shot once in the chest by a gunman who escaped on foot.

Sources say he was gunned down by east Belfast UDA after boasting in a loyalist bar about his 'friends' Billy Wright and Johnny Adair.

UDA boss Gray was arrested as he tucked into a Chinese meal in a restaurant last night as detectives investigated the murder and the discovery of explosives during searches of a bar in the east of the city.

Several other people were also being questioned.

Around the same time a loyalist named Thomas Ewing escaped injury in a gun attact in Ravenscroft Avenue, also in what UUP man Jim Rodgers last night called 'the Wild East'.

Rodgers added: "This madness has to stop."

UDA man Gray was led away from the Chinese in a white forensic suit. A number of items were also seized.

The man who died on Friday night was an associate of high-ranking UDA figures, including its former mid-Ulster brigadier RJ Kerr, and the drug-dealing Marno brothers. He and the Marnos opted to join the LVF at its formation by Billy Wright in 1996.

Reliable sources say Greyhound and another LVF member called Paul Johnson - who fled with the organisation's money to London some time ago - were the LVF's first money collectors, taking 'insurance' from local businesses, as Wright targetted firms for extortion.

In paramilitary terms he was its 'Welfare Officer'.

However, 'Greyhound' is believed to have moved to Belfast some 18 months ago, as a result of loyalist tensions between the UVF and LVF in mid-Ulster.

Despite this he is said by reliable sources to have maintained his links to the UFF-LVF and, amongst others, was still close to top LVF members like Ron Buchanan and Robin 'Billy' King, and regularly carried drugs and weapons between Belfast and Portadown, on the train.

Greyhound also formed part of the guard of honour at Billy Wright's funeral in 1997, and was known to be close to a leading suspect in the murder of investigative reporter Martin O'Hagan, killed by the LVF last September, known as 'Dirty Macker'.

'Johnny's fuming and is threatening to do all sorts of things. People in north Belfast are said to have got death threats, and he was driving up and down the Oldpark, sabre-rattling.'

The source added: 'The Council has taken a stance, and it welcomes the latest statement from north Belfast. As for threats, it would remind everybody an attack on any UDA member is an attack on the whole organisation.'

But Gray had a colourful past and at times got too drunk and began shouting his mouth off, said one source.

"He was a nobody. But you can't live in east Belfast at the minute and tell everyone how you love Billy Wright and Johnny Adair."

Sources say that Gray was suspected of having had a role in the LVF killing of UVF leader Richard Jameson two years ago.

Most recently he claimed to have been 'saved', and made his 'testimonial' just weeks ago, in which he cried out his desire to be reunited with crazed terrorist, drug-dealing, security-force agent Wright.


Boys walk past the spot where Gray was killed; inset UDA boss Jim Gray
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Oct 6, 2002
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