Family seek documents related to British murder weapon

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The family of a County Donegal teenager murdered by loyalists in 1973 ago has started a legal action over suspected Crown Force collusion surrounding his killing.

Henry Cunningham was just 16 years of age when he was shot dead by UVF gunmen who ambushed a van he was travelling home in.

His two brothers were also in the vehicle attacked on a motorway near Randalstown, County Antrim. They are suing the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) after it emerged that a weapon used in the killing had been stolen from a British Army base.

As the case came before the High Court in Belfast for the first time, Robert Cunningham emotionally appealed for answers to the circumstances which led to his brother’s killing.

“There was never a proper inquest and we feel that we have been let down by our own (the Irish) government,” the Donegal man said outside court.

“What really annoys me is that the authorities north and south would let my mother and father go to their graves without an investigation, nobody did anything.”

No one has ever been prosecuted for his brother’s murder.

In 2008, an Historical Enquiries Team (HET) report said that one of the guns used had been taken from a British Army base in Lurgan, County Armagh.

Backed by lobby group The Pat Finucane Centre, the Cunninghams are suing the MoD for misfeasance in public office and negligence. They believe the Ministry was aware that guns under its control were being lost or stolen but failed to take any action.

Papers lodged in the case further accuse the MoD of knowing that its personnel were involved in taking the weapons later used by loyalist death squads. The case was adjourned amid attempts to secure further discovery of relevant documents.

Speaking outside court Mr Cunningham’s lawyer, Kevin Winters, said: “Without documents families alleging state collusion can’t begin to get any form of justice for their loved ones.

“Today is the first step for the Cunningham family to get discovery of MoD material that will hopefully provide answers to the killing of their brother nearly half a century ago.”

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