The Czech-bought assault rifle, now linked to 11 other murders and two attempted murders, was first examined at the Weapons and Explosives Research Centre (Werc) – a previously unheard of unit located within the Northern Ireland Forensic Science Laboratory, the court was told. Mr Justice Weir, who is hearing the long-awaited inquest, said: “This is the first time it has ever come to my attention that there was a forensic system.” Ms Mallon (76) was gunned down as she watched television at a house near Dungannon, Co Tyrone on May 8 1994. The spinster, who had been staying with relatives because she felt vulnerable, was unable to escape when two loyalist gunmen indiscriminately opened fire on the bungalow on Cullenrammer Road.
The UVF said its mid-Ulster brigade had been responsible (although it was widely beleived to be members of Billy Wright‘s LVF gang) and were targeting two of her nephews Christopher Mallon, who was not home at the time and Martin Mallon who lived half a mile away. In the wake of the shooting, British army spying equipment was found in a nearby field sparking claims of security force collusion. Last week it emerged that the Historical Enquries Team (HET) – a specialist unit set up to re-examine Troubles-related cold cases – had linked the murder weapon to the UVF killings of Charles and Theresa Fox at the Moy, Co Armagh, in 1992, as well as the murders of John Quinn, Dwayne O’Donnell, Malcolm Nugent and Tommy Armstrong outside a bar in Cappagh, Co Tyrone in 1991. But, Barry McDonald QC, who is representing the Mallon family, said the rifle was now known to have been involved in at least eight incidents that resulted in 11 murders and two attempted murders.
He said inaccurate information that the gun had no previous previous history was fed into the the system by Special Branch. Mr MacDonald said: “The practice seems to have been when cartrige cases were collected they were forwared to the Forensic Science Laboratory of Northern Ireland but it was the Werc who conducted their investigations and provided a steer. “The upshot is that these incorrect conclusions have been made by a section of Special Branch in circumstances where the object of this entire exercise – that’s this inquest – is to allay suspicion and rumour about the involvement of Special Branch.” Judge Weir told the court he had never heard of Werc despite a lengthy career as a defence barrister and judge. He also expressed concern that they were not ballistics experts and said he would be demanding a full explanation on how they operated and who took the decision to conceal their existence. Martin Mallon said the family had been left bemused by the latest revelations. He said: “We have had Special Branch hiding behind screens, we have heard evidence about burning notebooks and items being destroyed. We have consistently heard about Special Branch being a force within a force and now it appears that Werc was unit within a unit. Notorious killer Billy Wright and two other loyalists were arrested and questioned about Ms Mallon’s murder but no-one has ever been convicted. Sinn Fein MLA Sean Lynch, who sits on the Stormont justice committee and is a Mallon family friend, said: “It is obvious that the British state is covering up, delaying and prevaricating on vital evidence – particularly around ballistics.” The inquest has now been adjourned until May to allow the HET to complete its investigation into 24 murders in the East Tyone area between 1988 and 1994 – including Ms Mallon’s murder.
With many thanks to: The Irish News.
- Doubts over Mallon ballistics tests (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Roseann Mallon murder: Tests on UVF murder weapon questioned (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Roseann Mallon murder: Judge hits out over hindering of inquest (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Legacy inquest: Devout pensioner gunned down by loyalists (newsletter.co.uk)
- Roseann Mallon inquest: ‘RUC pressured boy, 10, into changing statement’ (newsletter.co.uk)
- Army Surveillance Tapes Wiped After Uvf Murder of Pensioner (belfastdaily.co.uk)