An inquest has opened into the death of a former IRA member who was the victim of a knife attack in Newry, Co Down eight years ago.

The Coroner described the killing as one of the most grotesque and brutal he had ever come across.

The inquest heard that 44-year-old Eamon Collins had been stabbed 20 times in the face and head with a heavy weapon, possibly a bayonet.

His body was found by a roadside outside Newry in January 1999.

A former RUC Detective who investigated the killing said no-one had ever been charged in relation to the murder.

However, he said he believed members of the IRA from south Armagh had been responsible.

Eamon Collins had been a member of the IRA but left the organisation and later wrote a book detailing his experiences as a Republican paramilitary.