Belfast Telegraph

UDA chief's family slams death probe
Police inquiry 'left a lot to be desired'

By Debra Douglas
28 February 2005

The family of murdered UDA commander John Gregg today criticised the police investigation into his death.

Gregg (45), from the Rathcoole Estate in Newtownabbey, was shot dead as he sat in a taxi in the Docks area of Belfast in February 2003 during the feud between Johnny Adair's C company and mainstream UDA units.

Another man, Robert Carson (33), also from Rathcoole, also died in the attack, which was carried out as they were returning from a Glasgow Rangers football match.

At an inquest today, the families of the murdered men said the police investigation into the slayings "left a lot to be desired".

In a statement given by local councillor Tommy Kirkham, they said: "We would wish to point out that the PSNI investigation leaves a lot to be desired. No-one has ever been charged with the murders, yet most people know who the killers were.

"We were extremely concerned that CCTV footage did not provide sufficient evidence and the absence of security in the area of the docks on that Saturday evening would not be normal.

"The fact remains that we have lost loved ones who will never be replaced. The inquest is now over and we seriously hope the investigation continues until these murderers are brought before the court."

During the inquest DCI Stephen Maxwell said the murders were the culmination of a number of incidents between the UDA's Lower Shankill C company and other members of the UDA.

He said the deaths resulted in a number of Johnny Adair's associate fleeing to Bolton.

The court heard that a Belfast newsroom received an anonymous call the following day which claimed the Red Hand Defenders were behind the murders.

The inquest also heard that Gregg had expressed concerns for his safety, particularly after comments made by John White about him on a television programme.

DCI Maxwell said that 15 people had been arrested in connection with the double murder but that no-one had been charged.

He said that the CCTV footage of the night in question had been ruined due to technical faults.

Gregg's son Stuart was in the taxi with his father when they were attacked. He said he heard gunshots and saw flashing and realised that they had come under attack.

Taxi driver William "Rab" McKnight said he had been concerned about taking John Gregg in his taxi because he was "a high-ranking paramilitary" but had collected them from the terminal.

He said that when they stopped at traffic lights in the docks area, shots were fired from a car that had pulled up beside them but he could not see who it was.

Mr McKnight was seriously injured and spent 12 days in the intensive care unit at the Royal.

After hearing the evidence the coroner for Greater Belfast, John Leckey, said he hoped people would come forward with enough information to help the police convict those who they believed were responsible for the murders. He said: "I hope the murderers are apprehended and brought to justice."

He also said he was interested to learn that only John Gregg was the intended target that night.

He said the fact Robert Carson was killed and others were injured showed "the indiscriminate nature of the murders".

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