'˜We want justice for Mark'
The brother of a Derry man who died following a brutal assault 15 years ago has called for the perpetrators to acknowledge the truth of what happened to him.
Mark Robinson was subjected to a savage attack in the Galliagh area of Derry on April 27, 2001.
He was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital and rushed from there to the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
Tests however showed there was no brain activity and his life support machine was turned off on May 1.
His brother Warren Robinson said the family want the justice they say Mark has been denied since his death.
They said they believe people connected with the Provisional IRA at the time were responsible for the attack which led to the 22-year-old’s death, but said that this has never been acknowledged.
Mr Robinson also said that the investigation into Mark’s death appeared to run cold shortly after the murder, and that there has been no follow-up appeals or fresh operations like those afforded to other victims.
Recalling what happened to his brother, Warren Robinson- himself now an Independent Derry City & Strabane District Councillor- said that the attack is not believed to have been planned but was carried out after a chance encounter which turned fatal.
“Mark was coming from a friend’s house. There was IRA people out on an operation, where they burned a drug dealer’s car. We lived in Collon Lane and Mark was on his way back to the house at about 2 o’clock in the morning.
“He had been visiting a friend and having a few drinks. He was making his way across the path between Moss Park and Bracken Park and he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time because he met people who he had previously had run ins with and whatever else.
“They were already armed with irons bars and knives. They had an opportunity, seen him on his own and attack him.
“It was horrific some of the injuries he had. The iron bar done most of the damage. It was described to us as a bar used to strengthen concrete and they used that to basically smash the back of his head in.
“They stabbed him in his hip and they broke his thigh bone and I think the top of the knife broke in his bone. They came down with force on it.”
The family suspect the scene was cleaned up at the time and the murder weapons disposed of.
Mr Robinson described the impact on his family since Mark’s death as “devastating”.
He said: “There is eight of us, Mark was the third oldest, I’m the oldest. It has just had a devastating effect on siblings, and wider family.
“It’s not something people are prepared for to have visited upon them. There’s been no justification, nobody has tried to explain why.”
He said that the grief experienced by their parents Jim and Marian and the rest of the family was compounded by intimidation and threats when they tried to publicly call for truth and justice surrounding Mark’s killing in the period afterwards . In one episode, slurs were daubed on walls along the route of a march for justice.
Mr Robinson said his family carried out their own investigation into what happened ,and presented their findings to the leadership of the PIRA at the time.
The report centred on what events on the night Mark was attacked, who they believed to be involved and how they knew this to be the case.
He added however that they received a response from the leadership that they would not be commenting on the killing of Mark or two murders around the same time, both of which linked to drugs.
“To lump a young fellow from Galliagh in with these two, what were they trying to say?” Warren said. “We were just flabbergasted. They wouldn’t even look into it; investigate it. It was like two fingers up to the family.”
Warren said that the family felt let down that Mark’s death has not been treated like other cases.
“It’s 15 years. When you look at other cases, all the injustice cases, the cops have never dropped those cases. They have gone after it at each and every turn, right through the years. If there is an anniversary or significant event around that, they would be out investigating again, they have kept going. There’s nothing wrong with that but that’s the way they all should be treated.”
He claimed: “They had names of the people involved in the attack on Mark within a week. It wasn’t until about six or eight weeks after that they made arrests. They arrested two people in total, and nothing since. No charges.
“They haven’t been in touch with the family. There’s been nothing, absolutely nothing.
“That was the sub-total of the whole investigation. Mark has been left behind. He has been forgotten.”
Warren Robinson said his family faced hurdles in having Mark recognised as a victim of Troubles-related violence for several years, until after his Inquest. Mr Robinson also sclaimed that an alleged lack of action in the case may have been linked to the tentative Peace Process at the time, claiming that a decision may have been taken in some quarter and at some level not to “rock the boat”.
Mark’s death was initially investigated by the RUC, before the PSNI came into being several months later.
The Journal asked the PSNI for a response to the issues raised by Mr Robinson but has not received one by the time of going to Press.