The RUC did not do enough to prevent the loyalist paramilitary murders of two men in County Tyrone 20 years ago, a report has said.
The police Historical Enquiries Team (HET) said it did not find evidence of Crown force collusion in the killings of Kevin McKearney and his elderly uncle Jack McKearney, but could not discount the possibility.
Father-of-four Kevin was working behind the counter of the family’s butcher’s shop in Moy, near Dungannon, on January 3 1992 when a UVF gunman walked in and shot him several times. He died at the scene. Pensioner John McKearney known as Jack, was also shot and seriously wounded. He was taken to hospital but died three months later.
The family welcomed the report, which identified eight areas of concern about the actions of the Crown forces, both before and alter the murders.
The McKearneys, who were well known, believed they were vulnerable to attack. Kevin’s mother Maura received a detailed death threat telephone call just days before the murders. While the call was reported to police through a councillor, the RUC did not formally record or investigate it.
The family were also given no police advice about their personal security after they were threatened. It also said there was a loss of forensic material during the RUC investigation.
In addition, the “fact that a special branch officer was aware of the getaway car three minutes after the murders” remained unexplained.
The HET said the two victims were completely innocent and neither were members of any armed groups.
Meanwhile, the family of Raymond McCord jnr, who was beaten to death by a UVF gang headed by a police agent, has won permission to seek to stop retired members of the RUC/PSNI being rehired by the HET to investigate killings.
Lawyers for Vivienne McCord, Raymond’s mother, said the process was “tainted with illegality”. A judge ruled yesterday that the case has enough merit to be allowed to advance to a full hearing (an application for judicial review) later this year.
McCord, a former RAF man,was found dead in a quarry just outside north Belfast in 1997. His killing was at the centre of a damning report by former police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan, which established evidence that Special Branch police colluded with a UVF unit responsible for up to 16 murders.
Mrs McCord fears that a policy of bringing ex-RUC men back in to help with historical inquiries would prevent the full circumstances surrounding her son’s death being uncovered.
Justice Treacy said that “a degree of urgency” existed in the case, and set a court date in December.
Outside the court the McCord family stressed the importance of the legal action.
Raymond McCord snr said corruption and collusion had already been proven. “That culture within the old RUC is still there,” he warned.