Inquest hears overwhelming evidence of collusion
Inquest hears overwhelming evidence of collusion


An inquest is finally taking place into the murder of 76-year-old Roseann Mallon, who was killed in 1994 when loyalist gunmen opened fire on her sister-in-law’s house near Dungannon, County Tyrone.

The 1994 murder is surrounded in controversy because it later emerged that the British Army was conducting a surveillance operation on the home at the time.

In the wake of the shooting, British army surveillance equipment, including a hidden camera, was found in a field overlooking the house. The unmanned camera transmitted footage to soldiers stationed in a nearby wood.

The arthritic pensioner was gunned down in a hail of bullets while the camera was operating. Ms Mallon was hit multiple times in the back, head and limbs as she tried to flee to safety.

The paramilitary UVF said its mid-Ulster brigade had set out to target relatives of the Tyrone pensioner who they claimed were involved in the republican movement. Even though a number of people including the former LVF leader Billy Wright were arrested and questioned, no-one was ever convicted of the killing.

A former RUC detective told the inquest this week he had requested tapes from the camera from RUC Special Branch but was informed they had nothing that could assist the case, so he dropped the matter. Kenneth McFarland said: “Special Branch operated on a need to know basis. If they felt you did not need to know it, you didn’t know it.”

Ms Mallon’s nephew and godson Martin Mallon told the court he had the equipment tested by a professional cameraman and was told it had been fitted with a night-sight and was capable of filming close-ups of his mother’s house at Cullenrammer Road.

He rejected subsequent British military claims that it could only operate during daylight hours.

“The man that examined the camera had worked for the BBC or UTV and he said that there was a night-sight. He also said that it zoomed in and out,” Mr Mallon said.

The inquest was told that in the hours after the shooting on May 8 1994, Billy ‘King Rat’ Wright and two others known only as ‘suspect four’ and ‘suspect six’ were stopped in a car 15 or 20 miles away from the scene, but were later released.

Three other men who were travelling in another vehicle were also arrested after items including masks and gloves were thrown from the vehicle, but again no one was charged.

Anthony McGonnell, who was an SDLP councillor at the time, told the inquest that it was impossible to move within a three-mile radius of the house without being stopped by military patrols.

The British Army had the area in “lockdown”, he said. He also gave evidence about a British Army lookout post in a wooded area on higher ground nearby.

Another local man said he had seen a stash of British Army weaponry and supplies in a nearby building around the time of the murder. Gareth Loughran, who was ten years of age at the time of the killing, told the inquest on Tuesday he had seen this stash in an old mill but the RUC police had pressured him to change his statement.

In court, Ms Mallon was described as an intelligent and devout woman who was well-known and loved by everyone, both Catholic and Protestant, in the local area.

She had been watching television in the living room at the rear of the house when the gun attack happened. She barely had time to get off the sofa before the house was riddled with at least 15 bullets.

Bridget Mallon described how she had tried to warn her sister-in-law to find a place of safety.

“I whispered for her to come on quick. I signalled with both hands to come on,” she said in a statement read to the court.

She also described how she had said prayers and sprinkled holy water over the body.

“I took her hand and shook it. There was no response except a couple of wee sighs,” she said.

The inquest is scheduled to last for up to two weeks. It will also hear evidence from soldiers involved in surveillance operations at Bridget Mallon’s home.

Some of the soldiers have been granted anonymity while others have been allowed to give evidence from behind screens, despite objections from lawyers representing the family.

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