Irish Republican News · November 26, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
American family accuse PSNI of cover-up


The family of a US citizen killed by the RUC (now PSNI) police in 1997 have accused those involved of being part of a “conspiracy of silence”.

Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire this week confirmed an inquest finding that it was “highly probable” that one or more RUC members were responsible for the injuries which contributed to John Hemsworth’s death.

Mr Hemsworth was left with a broken jaw and bruising to his neck and back following the assault. He suffered a stroke six months later and died on New Year’s Day 1998, at the age of 39.

The attack happened during a night of rioting in west Belfast linked to the Drumcree dispute in Portadown, where the RUC attempted to force a sectarian Orange Order parade down the nationalist Garvaghy Road.

Members of the dead man’s family pursued the case for 18u years despite being repeatedly fobbed off by the Six County authorities. The resulting inquest and an investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s office confirmed John Hemsworth was in the same location as the PSNI members at the time of the fatal assault.

Mr Hemsworth’s daughter Danielle welcomed the Police Ombudsman’s findings but said they were “deeply upset and concerned” that those responsible continue to evade accountability and justice.

“At the very minimum if these serving officers cannot recall the assault on my daddy, despite numerous investigations and an inquest, then are they really fit to serve as police officers?”, she said.

Her mother Collette Hemsworth said it had been an “emotionally exhausting journey in establishing the truth and the facts surrounding John’s death”.

“I was robbed of my loving husband and my daughter of her devoted father,” she said.

“Nothing can ever replace that aching gap in our lives. The cherished memories we have of John remain with us every single day. He was a wonderful human being who would not have harmed a living soul and yet he was so cruelly set upon.”

The victim’s brother Paul Hemsworth said his father died without seeing the completed report.

“The RUC officers’ lack of co-operation since this time has led to an 18-year delay,” he said. “My brother was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Let this be on the RUC officers’ conscience.”

Relatives for Justice director Mark Thompson said it was astonishing that none of the PSNI men interviewed could recall the incident. “We find this situation beyond incredible,” he said.

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