The family of a murdered Catholic politician have begun a civil legal action against the PSNI Chief Matt Baggott, accusing the police of repeated failures to investigate the killing.
Patsy Kelly, an independent member of Omagh District Council, was shot dead in July 1974 as he walked home from work at the Corner Bar in Trillick, County Tyrone. The father-of-five’s body was then secretly buried by the murder gang, who weighed him down with two 56lb weights before dumping him in Lough Eyes. His wife Teresa, who was pregnant at the time, spent three weeks frantically searching for her husband. His remains were finally discovered the following month when they broke free and rose to the surface.
While the killing was claimed by loyalists, local people reported seeing a patrol of the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) in the area on the night the victim disappeared. Footprints that appeared to come from British Army issue boots were also discovered at the spot where it is believed he has was shot.
In 1998, a person named a number of former UDR men he claimed had been involved in the murder, three of whom are still alive.
A car belonging to one of the men was discovered burnt out the day after Mr Kelly’s disappearance. However, the alleged witness was never questioned by police and has since died. Lawyer Patrick Fahy, who has represented the family for the last 40 years, said: “The treatment of this family has been appalling.
“The original investigation was not only inadequate but information was withheld.
“To compound Mrs Kelly’s grief, misinformation was distributed and family members harassed by the UDR and RUC in the years after the murder.
“They have never received answers, they put faith in the HET (Historical Enquiries Team) process and were badly let down.
“This case was with the HET since 2003 and yet the Kelly family have not received a single shred of information.
“This action against the chief constable is very much a last resort in an attempt to finally get the family the answers they deserve.”
Teresa Kelly, now a grandmother of eight, said the legal action had been undertakemn “reluctantly” and only after the family felt there was no other avenue left open.
“For years I never spoke about what happened, not even to the children. I just couldn’t,” she said.
“I’ve grandchildren now and they are starting to ask questions. It doesn’t get any easier - if anything it gets harder as the years go on.”
Barry Kelly also said his family have suffered the effects of his father’s murder in silence for almost 40 years.
“We have been let down time and time again and it seems this is the only way we have any chance of getting to the truth,” he said.