Coroner gives shoot-to-kill ultimatum
Coroner gives shoot-to-kill ultimatum

The PSNI has been given seven weeks to hand over top-secret reports into the deaths of six men shot dead in Crown force shoot-to-kill operations.

Senior Coroner John Leckey instructed lawyers for the PSNI police that they must deliver the reports, conducted by former police chiefs John Stalker and Colin Sampson, by November.

While Mr Leckey had previously been given limited access to the reports, he has now ordered that they are made available so that inquests can finally get under way after more than two decades of delay.

The coroner’s request for police to disclose files will be one of the first issues the new chief constable, Matt Baggott, will have to address when he takes up his post next week.

Instructing PSNI lawyers that the reports should be handed over by November 9, Mr Leckey said: “The chief constable should provide copies of these reports to me, in redacted form if that’s viewed by the chief constable as necessary.”

Mr Leckey rejected suggestions by PSNI lawyer Tony McGleenan that the PSNI would need six months to carry out “security” assessments on the reports, insisting that he expected the reports to be ready in seven weeks.

“I think that’s a reasonable time frame,” he said.

In late 1982 a special undercover police unit shot dead IRA men Gervaise McKerr, Eugene Toman and Sean Burns in Lurgan.

Two weeks later the same police unit shot Catholic teenager Michael Tighe dead near Craigavon.

A further two weeks later the same unit killed INLA men Seamus Grew and Roddy Carroll near Armagh city.

All were unarmed.

Stalker and Sampson carried out separate investigations over complaints the men had been deliberately shot dead in cold blood. Neither report has ever been made public.

Meanwhile, the family of murdered Co Tyrone pensioner Roseanne Mallon have hit out after it emerged that the PSNI may still be withholding intelligence documents relating to her murder.

The 67-year-old was killed by UVF gunmen as she visited a relative’s home near Dungannon in May 1994.

It later emerged that British soldiers had secretly watched the attack but were ordered not to intervene. Fifteen years later there has still been no inquest into the pensioner’s death.

A preliminary hearing yesterday was told that the PSNI had only disclosed the latest papers to coroner lawyers in July.

Coroner lawyer Sean Doran said it was still unclear whether his office had yet received all relevant documents from the PSNI.

The pensioner’s nephew Martin Mallon expressed frustration at the continued delay in holding an inquest into his aunt’s murder.

“This is the 25th time in the last 15 years that we have come to court in the expectation of an inquest opening only to learn that the PSNI is refusing to disclose the necessary documents,” he said.

“The inquest is now being heard by High Court judge Mr Justice Weir.

“He told us that he is anxious for the police to finally give full disclosure so that an inquest into Roseanne’s murder can finally take place.

“After 15 long years we hope that his involvement in the case will mean that we can finally get justice.”

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