Police Ombudsman’s report finds RUC caught informers who knew they were part of loyalist murder gangs

The Police Ombudsman has found that loyalist informers were retained by the RUC Special Branch even after being suspected in the murders of Catholics in the North West.

Ari Anderson identified “collusive behavior” and raised significant concerns about police conduct between 1989 and 1993 when the UDA murder gang killed 19 people.

On Thursday night PSNI apologized to the families of the victims.

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said in a statement that the report “brings once again the horror and pain for all communities in Northern Ireland’s past”.

“These were horrific crimes committed by those who did it with evil intent. We are well aware of the hurt and anger felt by the families of those killed and the injured and we apologize to the families for the findings in this report,” he said.

“The peace process has changed the context of policing. PSNI has now greatly improved the policies and procedures that guide our response to potential threats and how we approach criminal investigation and intelligence management.

“These policies and procedures are firmly embedded in the principles of the Human Rights Act 1998. We welcome the fact that the Lokpal has recognized these positive developments in its report.”

Reports of murders and multiple attempted assassinations found that “there were occasions where the ‘reward’ associated with the recruitment of many loyal paramilitary informers failed to outweigh the ‘risk’.

“My investigators identified several informants from the North West UDA/UFF who provided intelligence of questionable quality,” she said. “However, despite other evidence and intelligence indicating that he was actively involved in a serious crime, including murder, he was retained and managed as an informant by the RUC Special Branch.”

One of them was ‘Person H’, better known as the loyal serial killer Torrance Knight. He was convicted of the murder of four workers at Castlerock in March 1993 and the attack on the Rising Sun bar in Greysteel in October of that year, which claimed eight lives.


UFF Serial Killer Torrance Knight

Information the watchdog received from Loyalists detained in Belfast indicated that an attack in October 1993 was imminent.

“The use of certain informers by the RUC Special Branch in the North Zone during the relevant period causes me great concern,” Ms. Anderson said.

Records of the recruitment and management of informers were destroyed without explanation.

The attack was claimed by the UFF, which said it was a retaliation for the IRA’s Shankil bombing a week earlier.

Ombudsman investigators said that because of the bomb, police were on “high alert” and had arrested several people linked to the UDA/UFF in Belfast.

“Two of these individuals, while detained at the Castlereagh RUC Holding Centre, indicated that a ‘genocide’ was going to take place in the Derry/Londonderry area,” Ms Anderson said.

“I believe the police should have considered multiple disruption tactics to address the threat of a significant attack.”

She also investigated the 1989 assassination of Republican Gerard Casey in Rasharkin. The father of three was shot dead as he was lying in bed with his wife.

The report found that the Special Branch had received intelligence that UDR member ‘Person V’ had provided the UDA with information that aided in the assassination. The Special Branch passed this intelligence to the military, but Ms Anderson said they found “no evidence that it was sent to the police investigating the murder”.

“Person V was stationed in the North West and his role within the UDR allowed him access to intelligence documents”, and he participated in monthly high-level intelligence meetings.

Fearghal Shiels of Madden & Finucane solicitors representing Mr Casey’s family said the report confirmed there was collusion.

He continued: “At almost every level within the Army and RUC Special Branch, Gerard was involved in targeting Casey, providing weapons to his murderers, and protecting those suspected of involvement in his murder.

“The unmistakable conclusion they draw is that Gerard Casey is a victim of state-sponsored terrorism.”

The victim’s son Paul said: “It is necessary that, apart from the operation of the RUC, there is a thorough investigation into the role of the UDR in the targeting of my father. The Ombudsman has found that the person suspected of giving my father’s details has That regiment was dismissed, yet neither the UDR nor the special branch of the RUC transmitted any further information.

“It is condemnable that UDA remained a legitimate organization at the time of my father’s murder.”

The report also found a revolver used in the murders of Sinn Féin councilor Eddie Fullerton in May 1991 and Thomas Donaghy in August of the same year, along with the attempted murder of James McCorriston, a personal protective weapon that was stolen from the home. was reported to be. A former police officer in Garvag in 1988.

In January 1992, police searched the Ballymani address of a suspected UVF terrorist who was also a former member of the UDR.

They recovered a revolver and notebook with the names of individuals suspected of being members of the IRA, including Daniel Cassidy, who was murdered in Killia later that year.

On Wednesday the PSNI arrested a 57-year-old man in connection with the murder of Mr. Cassidy.

Less than 24 hours before Mr. Casey’s murder, police spoke to Person J and Person K, both UDR members, who had seen them working suspiciously near the victim’s home.

Following the assassination, the Special Branch received intelligence that ‘Person V’ had provided targeting information to the UDA.

The Special Branch handed it over to the Army, but the Lokpal found no evidence that it had been sent to the police probing the murder.

However, Ms Anderson also said that the investigation by the RUC into attacks by the North West UDA/UFF during this period was “prompt and thorough” and that “many individuals were prosecuted and convicted”. He found no evidence that an officer had protected an informant from arrest and/or prosecution.

Instead, she said the police had continued to use multiple informers when they should have known they had failed to provide information about UDA’s activities, and were involved in serious criminality, including murder.

“I believe this reflects a practice on the part of certain Special Branch officers to recruit and continue to use, contrary to applicable RUC policy, on the part of certain branch officers suspected of involvement in serious criminality, including murder,” he said.