A collective “loss of memory” has descended among witnesses at the public inquiry into the murder Robert Hamill.
The outbreak of amnesia is frustrating the inquiry’s attempts to uncover the full truth surrounding the killing of the Portadown man.
Hamill was killed by a loyalist mob in May 1997 as RUC police stood by and watched.
Rory Robinson was one of six men charged with Mr Hamill’s murder before the charges were controversially dropped a year later.
The 37-year-old was identified by witnesses as having been involved in the attack on Mr Hamill.
One RUC man claimed that he hit Robinson in the chest with his baton to stop him from continuing to attack Mr Hamill on the ground.
However, when Robinson gave evidence to the public inquiry yesterday he said he could not remember anything about the night of Mr Hamill’s attack -- or being in Portadown, or anything else that happened in the past thirty years.
In a bizarre series of answers Robinson went on to claim that he had never heard of the IRA, UVF, LVF, or even Long Kesh prison, where he had spent five months awaiting trial for murder.
He said he could not remember why he had asked to be held on the LVF wing in the prison, while his five co-accused had all gone to the UVF wing.
When an increasingly nervous Robinson was asked why he kept staring at a clock on the wall: “I’ve a child to collect at three o’clock.”
Barrister Margaret Ann Dinsmore QC asked Robinson how long he had been married, he replied: “I can’t remember.”
Robinson’s memory loss reached a new high when he forgot that he had a loyalist tattoo commemorating 1690 on his arm. The year 1690 marks the ‘Battle of the Boyne’ victory of the Protestant King William over the Catholic King James.
He initially denied that the words ‘Rem 1690’ were tattooed on his arm.
When challenged to allow the inquiry to see the tattoo, Robinson declined, claiming it was not relevant to the inquiry.
When the judge insisted, Robinson’s barrister asked for an adjournment to consult with his client.
When proceedings resumed the inquiry was informed that Mr Robinson now accepted that ‘Rem 1690’ was tattooed on his arm.
With that, Robinson was thanked for his evidence and invited to leave the inquiry.
Minutes later the inquiry was informed that the PSNI would investigate whether Robinson had committed perjury.
Last week, Victoria Clayton also denied being part of a “wall of silence”.
She said she had no recollection of being in the company of Kyle Magee that night, despite Mr Magee having made a statement to the RUC that he had been in her company.
Clayton was also identified by other witnesses as having wiped blood off the lip of Stacy Bridgett, one of those initially accused of involvement of the attack. But Clayton has refused to identify Bridgett as the man she assisted.
Another witness, Stephen Sinnamon, said he had been returning from a disco when he noticed the ambulance, RUC and a crowd at the scene of the fatal attack.
At one point during his evidence Mr Sinnamon appeared to admit to knowing that some of the people who had attacked Mr Hamill had been present at a party with him later that night.
However, when challenged about this, he claimed that he had in fact meant that he had seen some of those at the party at the scene earlier in the evening, then said he couldn’t remember.
A visibly shaken Mr Sinnamon said: “We were very young and very drunk. I know it’s no excuse.”
Questioned on his statements to the RUC following the murder which contained little useful information, he said: “I knew police didn’t believe me.
“There was nothing I could tell them.”