Hamill inquiry calls for prosecution
Hamill inquiry calls for prosecution

An inquiry into the murder of Robert Hamill has urged the North’s Prosecution Service to “urgently reconsider” a decision not to prosecute a retired member of the PSNI (formerly RUC) police.

The recommendation was made in a surprise interim report by the inquiry released today.

Robert Atkinson was one of four RUC men accused of standing by and watching as Mr Hamill was assaulted by a loyalist mob in Portadown in April 1997. He subsequently died of his injuries.

Atkinson was subsequently investigated over an allegation that he tipped off a murder suspect -- named at the inquiry as Allister Hanvey -- to dispose of clothes he was wearing on the night.

Although Hanvey was eventually charged in relation to the killing he, like five other accused, was acquitted because of a lack of evidence.

Prosecutors also rejected appeals by the family to bring Atkinson to trial.

The Public Prosecution Service in the North has come under strong criticism in recent years over its failure to prosecute loyalist and sectarian killers, most recently following the Thomas Devlin murder trial.

Sinn Fein Assembly member John O’ Dowd has said the recommendation in the interim report must be acted on without further delay.

“The Hamill family have been tireless in their campaign for justice, however time and time again they were let down by the very authorities who were supposed to be tasked with delivering justice,” said Mr O’Dowd.

“The Public Prosecution Service must now act without further delay and ensure transparent justice is delivered for Robert Hamill and his family.”

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