UDR 'was believed involved in murder'

William Scholes, Irish News

It is "widely believed" that the UDR was involved in the murder of Co Tyrone
father-of-five Patsy Kelly in 1974, the High Court in Belfast heard
yesterday (Thursday).

Mr Kelly, an independent nationalist councillor on Omagh District Council,
was 33 years old when he disappeared after leaving the bar he managed in
Trillick, Co Tyrone to drive home on July 24 1974.

A judicial review of the PSNI's refusal to bring in an outside police force
to investigate the death resumed yesterday.

Since Mr Kelly's death the case has been surrounded by claims that he was
murdered by a rogue UDR patrol, that the RUC botched the original
investigation and that security forces colluded to keep the killers out of

The court action, brought by Mr Kelly's wife Teresa, opened last September,
two months after police launched a new investigation into the murder.

Seamus Treacy QC, appearing on behalf of Mrs Kelly, who was in court with
her three sons, said there were "credible allegations of state collusion in
the murder".

"The family believe that members of the security forces were involved in Mr
Kelly's murder in 1974 and that there was a lack of proper investigation,"
he said.

"There are so many criticisms of this case and the ongoing investigation, we
submit that there is an unanswerable case that an outside police force be

"The police are failing to provide the family with what they are entitled to
– an independent, effective investigation."

Paul Maguire, responding, said there was "nothing to support the view that
police were complicit in the murder or that they covered it up to protect
the security forces".

Referring to the current investigation – led by Detective Superintendent
Andrew Hunter, who is on secondment to the PSNI from the West Midlands
police – Mr Maguire said: "The reinvestigation will be supported by national
forensic and scientific resources.

"It is difficult to see how that can cover up security force wrongdoing."

He said Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kinkaid, who had ordered a review into
the case in August 2001, had built "into the process a number of what might
be termed 'confidence-building measures'".

"The senior investigating officer is on secondment from an English police
force. It is difficult to believe that such a person comes to Northern
Ireland with an axe to grind or a bias," Mr Maguire said.

"All of the officers involved were not serving police officers at the time
of this death. They are also not officers with a connection to the area in

"Mr Hunter has gone to very considerable lengths to explain his actions to
the family.

"Police have been sensitive to the concerns and are trying to meet them."

After tracing the history of the case, Mr Maguire said: "It is one thing for
there to be shortcomings, it is another thing to read into those
shortcomings that there is collusion between the police and the guilty

"There may be reasons other than bias or collusion which could explain why
what should have been done was not done.

"It might be that the officers were too busy or were not efficient enough.
But inefficiency does not indicate collusion."

The court also heard that 19 UDR soldiers had been interviewed at their camp
in the time between Mr Kelly's disappearance and the discovery of his body
on August 10 1974.

Referring to a bootprint – thought to have been made by army-issue footwear
– found at the roadside where Mr Kelly is thought to have been shot dead, Mr
Treacy told the court that in 1974 no attempt was made to try and match the
print to a particular boot.

"The explanation at that time was that the RUC had no suspicion of UDR
soldiers," he said.

"But in 1974 it was widely believed that the UDR was involved, to such an
extent that the police conducted interviews with the UDR even before the
body was found. There was a plaster-cast (of the print) but that has now

Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr has reserved judgement.

September 26, 2004
This article appeared first in the September 24, 2004 edition of the Irish

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