Lack of police evidence shows no ‘direct or indirect evidence’ of collusion in murder of County Tyrone pensioner

Combined skeletal face of northern police officer and loyalist paramilitary
Peadar O'Cearnaigh

UVF gunmen murdered Roseanne Mallon in her sister-in-law’s home in County Tyrone on 8 May 1994. She was 76 years old. Her family claims elements of the British army and police colluded with loyalists in her murder. The inquest into her murder didn’t agree.

Inquests into Mallon’s murder

The inquest into Mallon’s murder started in April 2002. But coroner Reginald Weir only delivered his report on her killing on 7 January this year.

The inability of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the ministry of defence to release relevant documentation affected this process, according to the coroner.

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Collusion allegations

Billy Wright was a member of the local UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force). The coroner’s report describes Wright as “a notorious sectarian terrorist”. Police arrested him after the murder but released him four days later. The police interview notes were apparently destroyed by asbestos removal workers.

Two months after the murder, a neighbour found two surveillance cameras in a field overlooking the address where Mallon died. According to the coroner’s report, “the RUC Special Branch (“SB”)” initiated the surveillance. This camera sent images to soldiers at a nearby observation post.

The camera was in use on the day of the murder and soldiers at that post heard gunfire. But their operations room ordered them not to respond.

They didn’t submit videos from this camera to the murder investigation team. The killing took place at night, and the army claimed the camera didn’t have night vision capability. So they turned it off.

Coroner conclusion

The coroner found no “factual nexus” between the surveillance and Mallon’s death. But he found the quality of the police investigation to be “most unsatisfactory” in relation to the unavailability of video evidence. In addition, he stated:

Clearly a decision was taken at a senior level in SB not to share the video material or its existence

The coroner raised concerns about forensics examination. He said people “not so qualified and experienced and plainly… not independent” conducted the technical examination of weapons and ammunition.

It also appears the police didn’t take fingerprints. Nor did they establish the murder weapon’s use in 11 previous murders.

The coroner concluded that he found no “direct or indirect evidence” of collusion in the UVF murder of Mallon. The family issued the following statement:

To those of you who think we as Nationalists or Republicans will get justice in a British court from a British Judge whose only interest is to protect his paymasters, read this judgement.

Featured image via Wikimedia

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