Ex-Northern Irish paramilitary group leader dies at home after 'fall'

Former UDA leader Sam 'Skelly' McCrory suffered a head injury at home in Ayr and died a short time later.

Former Northern Irish paramilitary group leader Sam ‘Skelly’ McCrory dies at home in Ayr after ‘fatal fall’ UTV

A prominent former leader of a Northern Irish paramilitary group has been found dead in Scotland.

Sam ‘Skelly’ McCrory is understood to have been fatally injured during a “fall” in Ayr on Sunday evening.

The 57-year-old, once a high-ranking member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), fled Belfast for the town almost 20 years ago amid escalating violence during a loyalist feud.

Paramedics rushed to his home in the Stonecrop Place area after he was found in a stairwell with a serious head injury.

He was taken to Crosshouse Hospital, but died a short time later, Police Scotland confirmed.

His death is currently being treated as “unexplained,” though is not thought to be suspicious.

McCrory was previously the right-hand-man of UDA boss Johnny Adair and was among the group leaders invited to meet the former Northern Ireland secretary Mo Mowlam during a tense period in peace talks leading up to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

At the time, he was serving a sentence for the attempted assassination of leading republicans Brian Gillen and Martin Lynch.

He was also linked to the murder of Francisco Notarantonio, who was shot dead by the UDA in October 1987.

McCrory fled the Shankhill area in the early 2000s, settling in Ayr before becoming the first former paramilitary to come out as gay.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said an investigation into his death was at an early stage.

They added: “Around 5.45pm on Sunday, July 24, officers received a report of a 57-year-old man found with injuries within the common close of a property in Stonecrop Place, Ayr.

“The man was taken to Crosshouse Hospital but died a short time later.

“The death is currently being treated as unexplained, however there does not appear to be any suspicious circumstances at this stage, and enquiries are continuing.

“A report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.”

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