Sean Fox: Man shot dead in broad daylight at Donegal Celtic social club could be hitman’s sixth victim
A hitman who is believed to have murdered at least six people since 2018 is the prime suspect in the murder of car dealer Sean Fox at a west Belfast social club on Sunday afternoon.
Two masked men calmly entered the busy Donegal Celtic social club shortly before 2.30pm and shot Mr Fox several times in the head.
Eyewitnesses said it appeared to be a well-planned “professional hit”.
The victim died almost instantly at the scene.
After the shooting, the two gunmen set off on foot along Suffolk Road before disappearing into the Lenadoon estate.
The victim was a close friend of drug dealer Jim ‘JD’ Donegan, who was shot dead in December 2018.
He had been drinking with friends at the Suffolk Road social club where he was a regular on Sundays.
In recent days he is believed to have received warnings that his life was in danger.
His killers may have kept him under surveillance for some time.
Despite knowing he was under threat, he continued to meet friends for drinks on Sundays at West Belfast Football Club.
Originally from west Belfast, he had moved into Donegan’s flash house in Lisburn after his death and had taken over part of his car dealership business.
Donegan had been married to his second wife Laura, but soon after his murder moved to Spain with her son from a previous relationship.
Fox, known as Foxy, was part of a group of suspected gangsters known as the ‘Marbella Crew’ after photos of the men partying at the Spanish resort town emerged online following Donegan’s death .
An eyewitness at the scene told the Belfast Telegraph the bar was busy at the time of the shooting and while some people ran to help the victim it was clear he died instantly due to the nature catastrophic from his injuries.
The witness said he heard up to nine gunshots. No one else was injured in the attack.
Police moved staff and patrons to another room while they preserved the crime scene and took details from witnesses.
However, they are also looking to speak to a number of people who fled the bar in terror immediately after the shooting.
Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey said the community was in shock after the shooting.
“I condemn those responsible. There is no place for guns on our streets,” he said.
“Anyone with information about this shooting should report it to police immediately.”
Alliance MP Nuala McAllister condemned the ‘sickening attack’ which ‘left the whole town in shock, especially as it took place mid-afternoon in public’ .
Ms McAllister, a representative of the Alliance Policing Board, added that her thoughts are with the loved ones of the victim, “who have been left in mourning over this brutal act, perpetrated by those who speak for no one in the community “.
“Guns have no place in our society and the culprits must be removed from our streets immediately.”
SDLP adviser Brian Heading added that the incident had “cast a dark cloud over the whole area”.
“People in this community want to be able to live their lives in peace and this shooting in broad daylight at a busy establishment must be condemned in the strongest possible terms by all,” he said.
“People are rightly concerned about the presence of armed men on our streets and I urge anyone with knowledge of this shooting to report to the police as soon as possible. We need these people apprehended to protect the community. community and ensure nothing like this happens again.”
Mr Fox is believed to be the sixth victim of an experienced hitman who killed JD Donegan within a mile of Sunday’s shooting in December 2018.
Donegan (43) was shot dead sitting behind the wheel of an £80,000 Porsche as he waited to collect his 13-year-old son outside St Mary’s Grammar School on Glen Road.
Dissenting republicans are believed to be behind the murder of the West Belfast man, who was a major drug dealer. He was shot numerous times in the head in broad daylight, with his killer fleeing on foot through a local housing estate.
The murder of Warren Crossan (28) in West Belfast in June 2020 was also perpetrated in the same way. Mr Crossan was chased along Rodney Parade from its junction with St James’s Road in west Belfast by two masked gunmen.
He was then shot several times at close range on St Katharine’s Road.
Mr Crossan was the son of notorious dissident republican Tommy Crossan, who was shot dead in Springfield Road, Belfast, in 2014.
He had previously been arrested and questioned in connection with the murder of Robbie Lawlor, a Dublin criminal, shot dead in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast in April 2020.
In December 2021, Crossan’s close friend Mark Hall was shot dead. Again, the armed men approached and left on foot.
Hall was shot up to seven times while visiting his mother’s home in the West Belfast area of St James.
His killers had local knowledge and again no known getaway cars were used.
While Mr Fox was linked by association with the crime, the same gunman allegedly pulled the trigger in two other murders involving disgraced former dissident Republicans.
Kieran Wylie, was shot dead in west Belfast in May 2020. The 57-year-old grandfather was murdered by two masked gunmen at his home in the Lenadoon area of west Belfast.
The murder, which took place in front of the victim’s two horrified daughters, was again described as professional in its execution. He was shot in the chest before being finished off with a bullet to the head as he lay on the ground.
The armed men left on foot.
Mr Wylie had been accused of trying to set up his own vigilante group and threatening dissident former associates. He was also accused of providing information that led to the imprisonment of a man charged with explosives.
If the hitman is known to operate with an accomplice he is also linked to solo murders, that of JD Donegan and the assassination of Danny McClean in February 2021.
Mr McClean (54) was shot multiple times as he sat in a parked car on Cliftonville Road in north Belfast.
In 2019, the victim was identified in court as a dissident Republican. He was threatened by former associates and had been accused of targeting other Republicans by gathering information on their movements and trying to obtain weapons.
He was shot by a lone gunman who was captured on CCTV calmly walking away from the scene.
There were fears of further bloodshed last night after a list of more than 20 names was circulated online warning those on the list to leave the country, alleging they were drug traffickers and ‘no longer in safety, let today be another warning”.
Calling for information about Mr Fox’s murder, Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell said: ‘The two gunmen are believed to have escaped on foot along Suffolk Road.
“The investigation is still in its early stages and I would urge anyone with information or anyone who was in the Suffolk Road area at the time of the shooting and saw two men fleeing the club or who may have captured dashcam footage to contact us on 101 quoting reference number 1120 02/10/22.”