British soldiers watched as a pro-British death squad murdered a Catholic teenager in west Belfast, a report by the police’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET) has found.
Damien Walsh, 17, was shot dead as he worked at a coal supply business in Twinbrook in 1993.
The HET said the British Army had been watching the Dairy Farm shopping centre. It believed it was used by the IRA men to store arms.
The so-called ‘Ulster Freedom Fighters’, apparently acting on the same information, attacked the complex and killed the teen.
The HET report confirmed Damien had not been involved in IRA activity and had not been the killers’ intended target.
But it claimed that the undercover soldiers had been “too far away” to intervene and stop the killing.
They had contacted the PSNI with they declared. were details of the killers’ getaway car, but gave a wrong make and model. The HET claimed this was not deliberate, and ruled out any collusion in the case. The report concluded that there were no new lines of enquiry.
Damien’s mother spoke of her shock at the report, which she said had raised more questions than answers.
The family has already asked the police ombudsman’s office to carry out a separate investigation into how the murder inquiry was conducted.
“Apparently they [the British Army] watched the gunmen arrive, go into the premises and leave,” she said.
“They watched what direction they went in when they left the complex.
“Then, they contacted the RUC and gave details of the getaway car -- but they gave the wrong details, which is disgraceful.
“How could what is supposed to be a professional surveillance unit give the wrong details of a getaway car?” she asked.
Sinn Fein west Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann says the findings come as no surprise.
“They (the British Army) sat by and allowed the UFF to murder Damien at his place of work in the Dairy Farm; the British Army as well as the British government have serious questions to answer as to why they allowed this murder to take place and they did not intervene in apprehending those responsible,” she said.
“The report by the HET has raised a number of serious questions which I have no doubt the Walsh family will wish to pursue in the time ahead; we support them in this endeavour”.