Family urge letter writer to come forward

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The family of a County Tyrone man murdered by loyalists 30 years ago has called for an independent investigation to be carried out after receiving an anonymous letter containing significant new information.

Taxi driver Frank Hughes was shot dead by a UVF murder gang after he picked up a bogus fare outside a hotel near Dungannon on October 23 1990. The remains of the 61-year-old, who lived in Dungannon, were later found in his burned out car near the Moy.

It is widely believed there was collusion between the RUC police (now PSNI) and the killer gang.

During an inquest into the killing in 1991 it emerged that the PSNI had failed to publish a photofit of a female suspect in case it endangered her life. Again this week the PSNI again refused to issue the photofit.

According to the family a witness later provided the photofit description of the female suspect and said he saw an RUC vehicle in the hotel car park the night Mr Hughes was killed. The witness was himself shot dead in 2002 by unknown gunmen in nearby Donaghmore.

It has now emerged that a daughter in law of Mr Hughes received an anonymous letter several years ago from someone claiming to be the wife of an RUC man.

Eileen Hughes was married to Mr Hughes’s son Eamon, who was believed to be the target on the night his father was killed, and was himself later killed.

In the letter to his widow the author said she was writing to ‘clear her conscience’. Among the claims made was that the killing was discussed during a dinner party hosted by a named loyalist at his home near Portadown. Those attending included former UVF commander Billy Wright, the notorious Fulton brothers from Portadown, the author, her husband and RUC colleagues.

She described the gathering as a “celebration dinner” for the death of Mr Hughes. The writer also claimed that police officers “toasted” the death of Eamon Hughes at a similar gathering years later.

Three woman with loyalist connections are believed by the Hughes family to be linked to the murder.

The murdered taxi man’s grandson Kevin Hughes this week told the Irish News that an independent investigation is now required.

“We need someone independent, the police can’t investigate themselves,” he said.

“We know we are not going to get justice but truth means a lot to families. Thirty years on it’s as raw as ever.”

The family’s lawyer Peter Corrigan, of Phoenix Law, said “the reasons given by the police for not releasing the photofit do not stand up to legal scrutiny and it should have been released at the time.”

And he added: “The family would be calling for the person who wrote the letter to come forward now and contact them or Phoenix Law.”

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