Family fears inquest could be halted
Family fears inquest could be halted


The family of a Catholic man killed by loyalists almost 30 years ago believe they will never find out the truth after the British government revealed plans to end inquests.

An inquest into the death of Paul ‘Topper’ Thompson opened in 1995 and was adjourned until April when the first evidence was heard.

He was shot dead by a UDA death squad at Springfield Park in west Belfast in April 1994. The collusion of the Crown forces is suspected in the killing.

Civilian witnesses provided evidence to the coroner in Banbridge this week.

Mr Thompson was gunned down after UDA members cut a hole in a peace line fence close to a British army base to enter a nationalist area.

Hours earlier a neighbour reported a hole in the peaceline at Springfield Park to the RUC and British officials. However, authorities failed to act.

It was later claimed that a number of cameras on the nearby Henry Taggart British army barracks were not working.

The gun used to kill him is believed to have been smuggled into the north by British intelligence in the late 1980s.

His brother, and only surviving next of kin, Eugene Thompson fears he will never get to the truth.

Hours after the inquest hearing, the British government revealed amendments to the controversial legacy legislation which could terminate proceedings next year.

Only inquests that are at verdict or findings stage by May next year will be allowed to proceed.

Grieving relatives are now fearful that inquests already underway will be halted while others not yet started will be shelved.

Many of the pending inquests involve killings carried out by Crown forces and loyalist murder squads where collusion is suspected.

“I fear that having fought for so long that these changes to the law together with the delay tactics we have faced in getting disclosure mean that we may never find out the truth about what happened to my brother,” Mr Thompson told the Irish News.

“Months after my brother’s murder there was an independent community inquiry with independent judges which found there was collusion in my brother’s death.

“We have battled this for nearly 30 years.”

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