Man jailed for Miami Showband killings dies

The scene on the road between Banbridge and Newry, Co Down, where the Miami Showband minibus was ambushed in 1975
The scene on the road between Banbridge and Newry, Co Down, where the Miami Showband minibus was ambushed in 1975

A UVF killer who was involved in one of the most infamous attacks of the Troubles has reportedly been found dead.

John Somerville was part of a team which carried out the massacre of Miami Showband musicians near Banbridge on July 31, 1975.

PUP man Winston Irvine said that it was his “very clear understanding” that he had died, but added that he was a “very private person” and that he could offer no further details.

The Irish News reported that Somerville had lived on the Shankill, had been aged 71, and that his body had been found last week.

It added that he was believed to have had cancer.

Sometimes referred to by his middle name, James, alongside Thomas Crozier he was handed a life sentence for his part in the massacre, which also claimed the life of his brother, Wesley Somerville, and fellow UVF man Harris Boyle.

In all, three band members were killed and another two injured in the bomb and gun attack.

On the night of the murders, the popular group had been driving back to the Republic following a gig at the Castle Ballroom in Banbridge. Their minibus was stopped by a fake checkpoint.

The book Lost Lives, which is a compendium of Troubles-related killings, states after the band members had disembarked there was a loud explosion from the rear of the van, which killed two UVF men.

This was followed by the UVF gang opening fire on the band members, who had all survived the blast.

It adds: “Their apparent intention was to load the bomb into the minibus and have it explode as it travelled south, making it seem as if the band were bomb-carriers.”