The family of a Derry man killed in a IRA booby trap bomb 25 years ago have been “put through months of needless worry” by a legal challenge mounted by retired police officers.
This is the view of the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) which spoke out after the court bid was dismissed earlier this week.
Sean Dalton (54) and Sheila Lewis (60) died in the explosion which took place in the Creggan area on August 31, 1988. A third man, Gerard Curran, was injured and died seven months later.
They had gone to the flat to check on the occupant who had been kidnapped by the IRA as part of a bomb plot.
Retired RUC officers had lodged their challenge against a report citing police failures over the bomb.
The officers had gone to the High Court in an effort to have the Police Ombudsman’s findings quashed.
But a judge dismissed their bid because proceedings did not begin within three months of the report’s publication.
Mr Justice Treacy confirmed he was setting aside the granting of leave and dismissing the case due to the delay point.
Following his decision, a solicitor for the Dalton family said they were delighted with the outcome.
Paul Pierce, of KRW Law, said: “They should have been given the opportunity to become involved in this case right from the outset because they had a vested interest, but instead they only had the opportunity to make representations to the court on the day the case was listed for full hearing.
“It was at this time that they had the opportunity to raise the issue of delay and also the fact that the Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers Association had failed to put them on notice of the application.”
Paul O’Connor, of the PFC, says the Daltons have had to ensure months of “unnecessary trauma”.
“Had the retired police officers’ association co-operated with the original Ombudsman investigation, there would have been so need to challenge the subsequent report and re-traumatise the family,” he said.
“The association has, however, done the family one favour insofar as their ‘rebuttal’ has confirmed that the bomb was left in situ in order to protect an informer within the IRA.
“The family always suspected this was the case but the Ombudsman could not prove this.
“This case is far from over,” said Mr. O’Connor