Gun handed back to UFF 'used to kill six'

(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)

RUC Special Branch officers handed over a gun to the UDA which was
later used in six murders, retired Canadian judge Peter Cory's
report is expected to reveal.

A Browning 9mm pistol used in six murders had been in the possession
of the RUC's Special Branch for two weeks before it was handed back
to the UDA and used in two gun attacks.

Reliable sources last night (Monday) suggested that Peter Cory's
reports into security force collusion with loyalists would point to
evidence that Special Branch took possession of the Browning 9mm
pistol from UDA quartermaster Billy Stobie in late 1989 but two
weeks later returned the weapon to the UDA without any apparent
attempt to track its movements.

Two years later masked UDA men burst into the Devenish Arms in west
Belfast on December 22, 1991 and used the Browning pistol to shoot
at customers.

Twenty-two-year-old Catholic man Aidan Wallace was shot dead. Three
others were seriously injured, including eight-year-old Christopher
Lawless, who was shot in the face and lost an eye after gunmen
spotted him hiding underneath a table.

Less than three months later two UDA gunmen, one armed with the same
Browning pistol, burst into Sean Graham's bookmakers on the Ormeau
Road and fired nearly 50 shots into the crowded shop.

Five people, including 15-year-old schoolboy James Kennedy and 66-
year-old pensioner Jack Duffin, were killed in the attack.

Mark Sykes, who was shot four times in the attack, and whose 18-year-
old cousin Peter Magee was shot dead alongside him, said he was not
surprised by the news.

"What is unbelievable is that police could have had a gun in their
possession and handed it back to the UDA to murder six more people,"
he said.

"What is shocking is that they must have known this for 12 years and
totally covered it up."

Aidan Wallace's mother Betty said she was shocked that the weapon
which killed her son may now turn out to have been in police hands.

"You can never forget Aidan but you try to get on with life as best
you can," she said.

"What is hard to accept is that no-one was ever charged or convicted
with Aidan's murder.

"The police came two years later and said they'd arrested two men
with the gun which killed Aidan.

"They never came back to tell us if they were charged or let go.
I've never heard from police again to this day.

"If it does turn out that police had this gun in their possession
and gave it back then that is just unforgivable, totally

Police last night refused to make any comment in regard to Mr Cory's
report or the Browning 9mm pistol.

December 3, 2003

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