Gérard 'Shorty' Hampson inquest to start at end of month

The inquest into the death of a Derry man, a former republican prisoner, who was found dead on the shores of Lough Neagh six weeks after he disappeared is scheduled to begin in Omagh on January 31.

Gérard Hampson
Gérard Hampson

Gérard Hampson (53) of Northland Road in Derry was last seen towards the end of 2007 and despite a search and appeals from his family he was not seen again until his body was found on the shores of Lough Neagh near Toomebridge on January 9 2008.

At today's hearing Bobbie-Leigh Herdman, a barrister representing the Coroner, said that everything was ready to proceed with the Inquest starting on January 31 in Omagh.

She said that due to availability issues the hearing only had three days, Monday, Wednesday and Friday of that week.

Counsel for the next of kin Paul Foster said he had some concerns about some of the decisions taken by the Coroner which he felt were 'limiting' the scope of the inquest.

When asked what he was referring to Mr Foster said the issue of failure by the PSNI to follow up some leads.

The Coroner, Joe McCrisken, said it was not his role to critique the PSNI but asked Mr Foster to put his concerns in writing.

Mr McCrisken said a decision had to be taken as to when the deceased 'actually died'.

He said if it appeared Mr Hampson died soon after he was last seen at the end of November then all the reports of sightings in December and subsequent investigations were outside the scope of the Inquest.

But he added the hearing would be 'flexible' as it proceeded and warned he would not tolerate any time wasting.

The hearing was adjourned for the Inquest to begin at 10.30 on January 31.