Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Hamill witness may face perjury charge over his evidence

A man accused of jumping on Robert Hamill as he lay dying in the street could be arrested for perjury after he lied to a public inquiry yesterday.

Rory Robinson, who spent time on remand charged with the 1997 killing, was exposed as lying under oath about a tattoo on his left arm.

It is understood inquiry chairman Sir Edwin Jowitt lodged a complaint with the PSNI last night.

The father-of-one, who claimed to suffer from short- and long-term memory loss, had initially denied having a tattoo that read ‘Rem 1690’. However the tribunal was shown a document taken by an RUC custody officer at the time of his arrest which gave a detailed description. The officer noted there was a parrot and the name Rory tattooed on the witness’s right arm and an Ulster flag and two Union Jacks with the words ‘Rem 1690’ printed on his upper left arm.

Mr Robinson told the hearing the officer “must have been” mistaken.

But after viewing the tattoo in private, Mr Robinson’s barrister later told the tribunal: “We have taken the opportunity to consult with our client and view the tattoo. We acknowledge that written on that is ‘Rem 1690’.”

A spokeswoman for the inquiry confirmed: “The Chairman Sir Edwin Jowitt has said a report was being made to the Chief Constable to investigate the possibility of perjury made by the last witness (Rory Robinson).”

Last night a PSNI spokeswoman said no arrests had been made.

Rory Robinson was among five people charged with the sectarian killing. Murder charges against all five were later dropped. A sixth person was convicted of affray.

Mr Robinson also told the tribunal at the Belfast Interpoint Centre how he had never heard of the IRA, the Troubles, the LVF, UVF or the Maze prison — even though he had spent six or seven months on remand in the jail’s LVF wing.

He claimed he could not remember getting married, whether he had gone to university and had no recollection of being arrested for murder.

Barra McGrory QC, counsel for the Hamill family described the evidence produced by Mr Robinson as an “affront” to the inquiry.

The tribunal was told how police had regarded Robinson as arrogant and cocky during interviews and that he had put his feet up on the tables, and laughed.

Mr McGrory added: “Just before you were committed to prison you had a cocky and arrogant attitude towards them (police). You knew nothing was going to come of this.

“You had a confidence about you that day which few people would have when just arrested for murder.

“It is inconceivable I am suggesting to you that you do not remember you were arrested for murder. It gives the lie to your evidence that you don’t remember even being there.”

Mr McGrory also said: “I am suggesting that your complete and utter memory lapse is fabricated for the calculated reason that that is the safest and surest way of avoiding consequences of criminal action.”

Robert Hamill died on April 27, 1997, days after being beaten by a loyalist mob. A public inquiry was started in January to establish whether the police at the time had facilitated his death or hampered any investigation into it.

In her statement, another witness, Tracey Clarke, told police she saw Robinson and several others “jump” on Mr Hamill as he lay in the street.

“I saw them jump on the person on the ground. They jumped all over the man,” she said in a statement which was presented to the hearing yesterday.

The inquiry also heard statements from a number of RUC officers who identified Rory Robinson as being at the scene of the attack. They reported he had “squared up” to them as they tried to hold back the baying crowd. One RUC man, known as P61, said he actually struck Mr Robinson with his baton.

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