The families of two unarmed IRA Volunteers shot dead by the British Army SAS nearly 20 years ago are to take their case to Europe over the failure of the RUC police to hold a genuine investigation.
Martin McCaughey and Dessie Grew were shot dead in cold blood by SAS soldiers at a farm building near Loughgall, County Armagh, in October 1990. Postmortem examinations revealed that Grew had been shot 48 times and McCaughey 12 times.
The shootings became part of a series of Crown force killings known as ‘shoot to kill’ after it emerged that the shed had been under surveillance and that the Crown had prior intelligence that the two IRA men were due to visit.
Since the early 1990s the Grew and McCaughey families have mounted a series of legal challenges over the RUC ‘investigation’ into the killings and the failure to hand over state documents to allow inquests to be held into the deaths.
In May 2001 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered the British government to pay ten thousand pounds each to the families of 10 IRA Volunteers shot dead by the Crown forces after the court ruled that there had been no proper investigations into their deaths.
In November 2007 the ECHR ruled that the RUC had also failed to properly investigate allegations of Crown force collusion in the killing of eight County Armagh men.
One month later the House of Lords ruled that all police intelligence files relating to the Grew and McCaughey killings should be disclosed to the coroner to allow full inquests to take place.
However, it remains the longest outstanding inquest in the history of the North.
The families say they have no confidence that full inquests will be allowed to take place any time in the near future. It has now emerged that they have now launched a legal challenge at the European Court of Human Rights.
Confirming that legal papers had been lodged with the ECHR, Fearghal Shiels of Madden and Finucane law firm, said: “ “The RUC officers who investigated the killings lacked the requisite degree of independence from the undercover soldiers involved in the shooting.
“No attempt was made to seriously challenge the excessive force used, involving the firing of at least 72 rounds, and in circumstances where one of the men was shot twice on the ground as he was dying or already dead.
“There was clearly no meaningful attempt made by the RUC to explore the credibility of the accounts provided, failing even to re-interview the soldiers in light of significant discrepancies in their accounts.”
Meanwhile, the family of a loyalist murder victim is set to sue the PSNI over major investigative failures identified in a new report by the Police Ombudsman.
Twnety-eight-year-old Fergal McCusker was shot dead by the loyalist paramilitary LVF in Maghera, County Derry, in January 1998.
The media carried entirely false claims at the time that he was involved in IRA gun-running, apparently on the basis that he had recently returned from the US.
The police investigation was token and most of the evidence was ignored, according to the dossier prepared by the ombudsman’s office. It found no evidence of collusion but suggested there was grounds for charges of misconduct against the ‘investigating officers’.
“He had no paramilitary connections whatsoever. He had good Protestant friends as well as Catholic,” said Mr McCusker’s brother, James.
“My mother Christine is still very distressed and this has brought it all back to her,” he said.
The family’s lawyer, Paddy Murray of Kevin R Winters Solicitors, confirmed they may now make a claim for distress.
“The family at this stage are considering their legal options, including a civil action against the PSNI,” he said.
Mr Murray said the findings pointed to “damning” failings.
“There are some potential evidential opportunities which have been brought to the attention of the HET [Historic Enquiries Team],” he said.