‘Political agendas’ protecting alleged mobile shop killers

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A suspected British state agent and hitman identified as a triple sectarian killer was never prosecuted because of a cover-up in which the PSNI (then RUC) police simply did not send a file to prosecutors, it has emerged.

Portadown man Alan Oliver has previously been linked to a UVF gang that carried out dozens of sectarian murders in the Mid-Ulster area. One of the gang revealed Oliver as the man who shot dead three innocent Catholics in an infamous attack on a mobile shop in Craigavon in 1991.

Loyalist James Thomas Harper was the getaway driver in the ambush of sixteen-year-old Katrina Rennie, nineteen-year-old Eileen Duffy and 29-year-old Brian Frizzell, who operated the shop.

Harper was convicted for his part in the triple murder and given a life sentence. But the two men he said were his fellow UVF gang-members were never prosecuted.

During interrogation Harper said that after the attack Oliver used a radio to say “Tatie bread” to indicate to the other two that the victims had been killed. Oliver is understood to be still living openly in the north Armagh area.

Harper identified the third UVF gang member as Tony McNeill, and accused former UVF commander Billy Wright and Mark ‘Swinger’ Fulton of helping to plan the attack. The plan for the attack is understood to have come from members of a British Army (UDR) patrol after Mr Frizzell had refused to serve them.

During Harper’s sentencing, the judge said it was “unfortunate” that the other two gang members were not before the courts. Now the Public Prosecution Service has confirmed that “no investigation file in respect of Oliver or McNeill was ever submitted to the DPP (Department of Public Prosecutions) for a decision as to prosecution regarding this incident”.

It added: “it would not be appropriate for the PPS to now apply the test for prosecution to individuals not reported on the original police file”.

Eileen Duffy’s brother Brendan spoke of his family’s disappointment.

“I’m very angry that there was never any chance of a conviction,” he said.

“It confirms what we believed that the state had some role in the killings at the mobile shop.”

“The truth is more important to us than justice because if there are any convictions they will only get two years.”

The family’s lawyer Kevin Winters said “the Craigavon mobile shop killings presents as one of the worst examples of cover up of state-run murdering agents”.

“We have written to the police seeking an explanation - we don’t expect to get one,” he said.

“The bereaved Frizzell, Rennie and Duffy families continue to engage with patience and dignity in a drip-feed legal process that takes a terribly long time to finish.”

“Getting shocking news like this only serves to retraumatise them and that’s an experience shared by hundreds of other families.”

Mr Winters said that if similar circumstances arose in another jurisdiction there would be an investigation.

“But not here, it will never happen because of so called ‘political sensitivities’ and other ‘agendas’.

“That is both farcical and depressing.”

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