Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Mother of Martin Conlon in plea to find killers

A mother today pleaded for information that would bring her son's killers to justice nearly four years after he was murdered.

After the inquest into the murder of Martin Conlon, who was shot dead outside Keady, County Armagh, in November 2005, his mother Sally said: "I wish it was a trial I had come to today."

Standing outside Armagh Courthouse, where the inquest was held, she added: "I just wish they would get someone for it and then I would be happy for whatever time I have left.

"Please come forward and give information about why it was done and for what reason."

A senior police officer told Senior Northern Ireland Coroner John Leckey that there were a number of possible motives for the murder including a fall-out between criminals and a fall-out with dissident republicans - Mr Conlon had been jailed in the Republic after being arrested at a Real IRA training camp.

Detective Chief Superintendent Derek Williamson said that after discovering Mr Conlon was homosexual he had also investigated a possible homophobic motive.

He said: "There are a number of motives and any one could have been the reason for murder.

"We do know in the Armagh area there were indications a number of businessmen had received letters in an attempt to extort money from them and there was some suggestion Martin had connections with those attempts to extort money."

He said it was a purely criminal enterprise, not paramilitary linked.

Asked by Mr Leckey whether the murder could have been the result of a fall-out amongst the gang he said: "It is certainly a possibility and it is possible there was a fall-out with persons involved in paramilitary activity. He would have been associated with dissident republican elements."

Mr Conlon was abducted from a friend's house in Armagh on November 7, 2005 by two masked and armed men who bundled him into his own car and drove him away.

He was shot and abandoned on the Farnaloy Road outside Keady where he was found by members of the public. He was taken to the Craigavon Area Hospital where he was pronounced dead. His car, a silver Volkswagen Passat which the killers had unsuccessfully attempted to burn, was found by a farmer a few miles from the murder scene.

Mr Leckey said a post mortem exam showed Mr Conlon had been shot twice in the back of the head. Mr Williamson said Mr Conlon had been arrested on numerous occasions in Northern Ireland in the 1990s before being arrested in the Republic in October 1999 at a Real IRA weapons training camp.

He had been released from prison in April 2004 and returned to Armagh.

In June 2005 he was sent a bullet through the post by the Loyalist Volunteer Force and was warned by police the following month that criminal elements were planning to take action against him, he said.

The coroner recorded that Conlon had died from two gunshot wounds to the head and that while he had a history of dissident republican activity it was not known who was responsible.

He said not knowing had been very hard for Mrs Conlon and added: "I hope very much the (police) investigation will ultimately lead to the conviction of those responsible."

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