RUC gun victim's dad slams PSNI 'threat'

(by Mick Browne, Irish Daily Star)

The father of a teenage girl killed by an RUC officer's gun while in the policeman's car has slammed the PSNI's threat to arrest him.

The PSNI has moved over allegedly threatening remarks made to the Police Ombudsman in June by the girl's still-grieving dad.

However, the Police Ombudsman's office expressed surprise when told of the PSNI action by The Irish Star.

The girl's father, Herbie McLoughlin (65) was approached by PSNI officers at his home in Portadown Co Armagh two days ago. He was told to attend Lurgan PSNI station by Friday, or face arrest.

A PSNI spokesman refused to comment yesterday (Wednesday).

Herbie's daughter Alice (15) was fatally wounded on a journey from Markethill, Co Armagh to Portadown in the early hours of 6 July 1991.

She died from her injuries in Craigavon Area Hospital soon after she had been brought there by the RUC officer.

The policeman claimed she was drunk and suicidal and had snatched his gun, which he had – against regulations – beside his driving seat.

He claims the girl shot herself in the head.

An inquest into Alice's death in 1993 recorded she died from the gunshot wound.

The officer concerned was later reprimanded for his failure to secure his weapon and ammunition.

Herbie told The Star yesterday that he may have made some comments about the RUC officer whom his daughter was with in the heat of the moment.

"We were at a meeting with the Police Ombdusman's office and things were possibly said in the heat of the moment," he said.

"But two days ago the PSNI came to the house and said they wanted to interview me about the comments and that I had a few days to think about it."

Under current legislation investigative officers would be required to pass on such comments.

However, the Police Ombudsman's office said it was surprised to learn of the PSNI move.

A spokesman said: "We cannot comment on the specifics of any investigation, but we would be keen to assure the public that it's not Police Ombudsman policy to provide the PSNI with information for the possible prosecution of a complainaint."

Herbie and his family believe the move is merely an attempt by the RUC man's colleagues to cause the family more pain and delay the Ombudsman's report.

Alice's parents, Herbie and Sadie, brothers and friends have always denied she was suicidal or shot herself.

She was buried three days later – on her 16th birthday, a devastating loss for her family. The set up the Justice for Alice Group and campaigned for an independent probe.

Two years ago it presented the Ombudsman's office with fresh information surrounding Alice's death. The Ombudsman then began a probe, but has yet to deliver its report.

David McLoughlin, Alice's eldest brother said: "You may say things in the heat of the moment, but daddy has had 14 years of stress, hoping to get answers, so you can hardly blame anyone in his position."

The JFAG group exclusively released a statement to The Star: "Once again pressure is being brought on the family of 16 year old Alice McLoughlin, fatally wounded in an RUC officer's car in 1991.

"This time the PSNI is trying to bring serious charges against Herbie, Alice's father, for alleged remarks made against the RUC officer concerned, to the Police Ombudsman's office.

"How much lower can the authorities go in order to prevent the family getting answers to their suspicions about her death?

"We, the Justice group, have only asked for one thing in the main, and that is that the officer faces the appropriate charges for events leading to her death.

"That officer admitted to an RUC disciplinary board in 1993 that he had been negligent with regards to his weapon and ammunition on the night in question.

"We feel this merits a 'manslaughter by gross neglect of a weapon' should have been brought.

"The Ombudsman's office was informed by the family that Herbie believes the truth lies in Alice's body, and has given permission for the body to be exhumed, witnesses names who were never officially interviewed and yet officers of the Ombudsman's office report Herbie's understandable comments.

"The public, the RUC, the PSNI, including Special Branch and the Ombudsman's office know the truth.

"Speaking for the family and ourselves, any alleged remarks made by Alice's father or her family, if said, would be understandable, but any actions by the PSNI will never silence the family or the JFAG."

The group also states Herbie is 'guilty of no crime' but believes any prosecution of Herbie would be NIO-inspired, to silence them in their quest and prevent the truth, as they see it, being told.

October 17, 2004

This article appeared in the October 14, 2004 edition of the Irish Daily Star.

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