Man jailed for murdering pal nicknamed ‘hyena’ because he was ‘always around dead bodies’

Gary Magee has lived a 30-year life as a criminal specializing in drugs, arson and car theft

Last week Magee pleaded guilty to killing his 62-year-old drinking buddy Andrew “Jimmy” Thompson after he set fire to his bungalow in Cloughoge, on the outskirts of Newry, in May 2021.

Originally charged with murder, prosecutors at Newry Crown Court accepted guilty pleas to manslaughter and “arson, reckless endangerment of life”.

Magee set three fires on the property and then tried to escape out the back door. However, this was closed and he was rescued by emergency services and treated for a burn on his hand.

The Sunday world can reveal that Magee, 44, who will be sentenced next month, led a 30-year life of crime specializing in drugs, arson and car theft.

Sources in Newry say Magee is known as “The Hyena” because he ended up near so many bodies – starting with the murder of his drug lord Brendan “Speedy” Fegan.

Fegan was shot dead in the Hermitage Bar in Newry in 1999. According to sources, Magee was hiding under a pool table when the two gunmen fired 14 shots at his crime boss.

“Magee was only 19 when Speedy was shot but he had been transporting drugs for him in Newry,” a crime branch source said.

“Gary was of a very low level at the time, but had been involved in crime for a few years – particularly stealing cars and dealing drugs for Speedy.

“When the gunmen stormed into the pub that Sunday it was packed and Gary hid under a pool table and stayed there for what seemed like ages. In fact, I think he waited until the police showed up before deciding to escape the situation.

DUO: Brendan Speedy Fegan, left, and Brendan Campbell

“Unfortunately, like many young men in Newry at the time, Gary idolized Speedy because of his lavish lifestyle and the fact that he had buckets of money to splash around.

“But despite witnessing the horrific murder, Gary chose not to give up the life of crime and continued drug dealing.

“Magee is addicted to alcohol and has led a life of crime for the past three decades. Unfortunately, it was an absolute disaster for everyone who had anything to do with him. Jimmy Thompson was a lovely man. Nobody had a bad word to say about Jimmy and yet Magee killed him for absolutely no reason.”

We can reveal that Magee came close to death several times before finally killing someone – hence his grisly nickname.

Coincidentally, Magee was drinking in the flat next door when violent psychopath David Conway burst into pregnant Belinda Hart’s Newry flat in 1997 and shot his girlfriend with a shotgun in a fit of jealous rage.

We can reveal that Magee has more than 115 convictions, including 12 for drugs, but only one for drug supply in 2007.

As we understand it, this supply allegation relates to his involvement in a police operation in a pub in Banbridge in a cocaine deal with another drug gang.

Sources claim Magee has also been accused of supplying drugs to a Warrenpoint teenager who died almost a decade ago.

Magee is said to have supplied him with the drugs despite being warned that they came from the same bad batch that had killed several people in Dundalk.

Magee was drinking in McCoy’s pub in Newry a decade ago when a dozen masked men from a rival gang kidnapped him and then dragged him up an alley.

They beat him to death, left him in the hospital and shortly afterwards the pub burned down in an arson attack.

And we can reveal that “The Hyena” was responsible for starting at least three different property fires before killing Jimmy.

It was suspected that Magee had started a fire on Mary Street, Newry, even though residents were still inside.

Jimmy Thompson

He is suspected of starting another fire at a house in Omeath, Co Louth, while residents were out, and even started a fire at his own flat in Greenfield Park, Newry, in an attempt to manipulate the housing authority move to another apartment, believing that he was being intimidated.

However, sources said on that occasion the smoke spread to all other apartments in the block, resulting in the tenants having to be moved to temporary accommodation.

Magee is due to be sentenced next month for the murder of Jimmy Thompson and previous courts have heard that although the victim was found dead on a bed in his Parkview home, Magee was rescued “lying unconscious by the back door” in the kitchen.

Magee, who lived a few doors down in Parkview, had suffered a hand burn and forensics at the scene revealed the front and back doors were locked, there had been no forced entry and there were three separate sources of fire inside the bungalow – one in the living room , one in the front bedroom and one in the back bedroom.

According to expert reports, the police told the court that the fires were deliberately started by “directly lighting combustible material”.

They also believed they were likely started in the half hour before emergency services were called at 11.40pm.

During questioning, Magee told police that he had drunk wine with Mr. Thompson and that he could remember details until 11 p.m., but nothing after that. His next memory was waking up in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

However, he refused to explain the burn on his hand or to elaborate on his claim that he injured his hand the day before Mr Thompson’s death.


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