Ombudsman report on ‘Derry four’ due soon

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A number of Derry cases are among the 150 files which the Police Ombudsman’s Office of Northern Ireland (PONI) reopened this week.

Sources at ‘PONI’ have confirmed that the complaint from the family of Creggan man, Sean Dalton, is expected to be among the first of the reports due. Mr. Dalton was one of three people who died as a result of an IRA bomb exploding as they checked on a neighbour in Kildrum Gardens in 1988. Sheila Lewis and Gerard Curran also died in the tragedy which became known as The Good Samaritan bomb. Mr. Dalton’s family made the complaint in relation to how police had dealt with the incident. The Pat Finucane Centre, who are working on behalf of victims families in many of those cases, said they expect: “Developments in several cases in weeks rather than months.”

The reports into 150 historic murder investigations had been suspended due to the recent controversy and departure of former Ombudsman Al Hutchinson. His successor Dr. Michael Maguire made the announcement on Wednesday.

Another of the reports due is the case of Derry men Michael Toner, Stephen Crumlish, Gerard Kelly and Gerry McGowan, who were charged and tried for the murder of 22 year old British Soldier, Lt. Stephen Andrew Kirby, of the Royal Welch Fusiliers. Lt. Kirby was shot dead on Wapping Lane on Valentine’s Day 1979.

The four men, then all teens, were arrested, charged and bailed for his murder.

Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre said: “That is one of the cases we hope and expect to be finished very soon.

“These teenagers were framed for murder after they were brutalised into signing confessions at Strand Road RUC station. When it became obvious that, in spite of their innocence they were going to be convicted, they skipped bail.”

That was in October 1980 and the teens spent two years on the run before the murder charge was eventually dropped.

“These men suffered the trauma of missing family and loved ones while on the run,” said Mr. O’Connor of the PFC.

“The case was a complete farce. The Pat Finucane Centre await the PONI ruling on this case with interest.”