Unresolved sectarian murder case ‘locked down’ by PSNI

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Prosecutors have refused to ask the PSNI police to reopen an investigation linked to the murder of three Catholics killed by unionist paramilitaries almost 30 years ago, despite never having received a file on the cases against four suspects, including a man identified as the killer.

Brian Frizzell, Eileen Duffy, and Katrina Rennie (16) were shot dead at a mobile shop in the Drumbeg estate in Craigavon in 1991.

Portadown loyalist Alan Oliver was later identified as the gunman but has never been charged. The ‘born again Christian’ has also been linked to a UVF gang which carried out dozens of sectarian murders in the Mid Ulster area.

Loyalist James Thomas Harper was later convicted for his part in the triple murder and given a life sentence. During interrogations he identified Oliver as the killer and another loyalist Anthony ‘Tony’ McNeill as also being involved.

He also claimed that former UVF commander Billy Wright and Mark ‘Swinger’ Fulton, another member of the organisation, were both involved in planning the attack.

At Harper’s sentencing Chief Justice Sir Brian Hutton said it was “unfortunate” that only he was before the courts.

In 2018 the Crown’s Public Prosecution Service 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”.

Last year lawyers acting for Brian Frizzell’s family asked prosecutors to review the killings with a view to directing the PSNI to reopen the case.

The request came after BBC Spotlight broadcast fresh evidence about the UVF in Mid Ulster last year.

Lawyer Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, said: “The failure by the RUC to send a file on a leading suspect to the DPP was bad enough.

“The latest letter from the PPS points to an ongoing lock down on investigating this case by the PSNI.

“It’s distressing to the affected families to learn that ‘resources’ prevents any sort of prioritisation in an atrocity crying out for immediate investigation now.”

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