The bullets used in the killing of Claudy sheep farmer were designed to fragment on impact to cause “maximum injury”, an inquest has heard.
Patrick Devine (50) was shot at least nine times by .22 calibre hollow-point copper-head jacketed bullets as he sat down to dinner at the window of his isolated farmhouse at Mullintill Road on September 13, 2004.
He was shot six times in the body and then three times in the head from point-blank range.
Six bullets were fired through his kitchen window as he ate his dinner. He then staggered into the hallway where his killer shot him three times in the head “with the muzzle of the gun one to two feet from the skin”, Pathologist Dr Peter Ingram told the inquest.
Dr Ingram said the bullets used in the killing were designed in such a way as to fragment on impact, causing maximum injury.
When coronor John L Leckey asked if such ammunition was commonly referred to as a “dum dum bullet” - rounds designed to expand and fragment on impact for maximum effect - Dr Ingram replied that the ammunition was “different from bullets” normally encountered. He added: “I don’t recall any cases where such ammunition has been used.”
Mr Leckey said “a major concern is if more of this ammunition is elsewhere in Northern Ireland and who has it”.
Ballistics expert Leo Rossi told the court that while the manufacture of hollow point ammunition was legal under the Geneva Convention, the modification of bullets to create hollow point rounds was illegal.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Magee said ballistics evidence indicated “some forensic expertise and knowledge on the part of the killer”.
He told Mr Leckey that the murder probe was still “very much live and ongoing” and that a review of the initial investigation was underway. He said that police believe paramilitaries were involved in the murder which took place against a background of disputes over land and sheep. No one has been convicted of the killing but DCI Magee said one person was arrested for questioning “but refused to answer any questions”. He said that police had come up against a “wall of silence” in the local community in relation to the murder.