Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

John Proctor murder: "God bless, I love you, watch yourself" - wife's last words to her RUC officer husband seconds before he was shot by the IRA

Seamus Kearney on trial: Man accused of killing policeman as he visited his newborn son in hospital

Reserve RUC constable John Proctor, who was shot dead after visiting his wife and their newborn baby at the Mid-Ulster Hospital in Magherafelt in 1981.
Reserve RUC constable John Proctor, who was shot dead after visiting his wife and their newborn baby at the Mid-Ulster Hospital in Magherafelt in 1981.
Seamus Martin Kearney at Derry Courthouse. He is charged with the murder of RUC reserve constable John Proctor, 25, who was shot dead in Magherafelt in September 1981. Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Seamus Martin Kearney at Derry Courthouse. He is charged with the murder of RUC reserve constable John Proctor, 25, who was shot dead in Magherafelt in September 1981. Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

The last words passed between a murdered policeman and his young wife, who had given birth to a baby son, were read to the trial of the man accused of the IRA assassination over 30 years ago.

The agreed statement of Mrs Kathleen Proctor was one of several read to the Belfast Crown Court trial of 54-year-old Seamus Martin Kearney, of Gorteade Road, Swatragh, Co Londonderry.

He denies the murder of 25-year-old RUC Reservist John Proctor, who was gunned down in the carpark of the Mid-Ulster Hospital on September 14, 1981.

In the statement, Mrs Proctor talked of how her husband "Johnny was in his usual good form" that evening and how they teased one and other over how fast she had been in getting back to her ward to watch her husband from the window after leaving him to the front door of the hospital.

She said that as he passed the hospital ward window, he joked: "You're very fast tonight", to which she joked back: "I'm not as fat as what you are".

Mrs Proctor added that as her husband walked on, she told him for the last time: "God bless... I love you... watch yourself".

Mrs Proctor's statement said that her husband then walked on alone, and that she estimated, "Johnny would just have had time to reach his car when I heard the sound of shooting".

She said she then ran to the nurses' room which overlooked the car park. Mrs Proctor looked out the window to see an ambulance parked at the the back of her husband's car.

As she watched, the figure of a man was lifted into the back of the ambulance.

"I recognised it was my husband from the clothing he was wearing", she said.

Mrs Proctor was then taken to the casuality unit where minutes later she was told that "Johnny was dead".

Two sisters leaving the hospital car park at the time told, in their statements, of seeing a gunman and of hearing shots being fired.

One of the women reported seeing the man "crouching down as if he was going to shoot", but that she did not see him put the gun to his shoulder, although she heard about five or six shots.

Her sister also talked of how she too "noticed a man with a gun" before hearing initially four or five shots and then after a second or two, three or four more.

Another visitor to the hospital said he saw Mr Proctor walking towards his Talbot Sunbeam car when he suddenly heard "crack, crack, crack" before a white Ford Escort RS "screamed" past him.  He then ran to raise the alarm at the hospital.

The prosecution claim they can link Kearney to the murder by a DNA profile found on one of two cigarette butts recovered at the scene, together with over a dozen spent cartridge cases from an Armalite AR15 assault rifle, which was also used in a murder-bid on UDR soldiers the following year, of which Kearney was later convicted in 1984.

A forensic expert who examined the cigarette ends said one of them did not have enough material to be analysed, while the other provided a DNA profile matching that of Kearney's, a match which was a 'one in a billion' in the population.

She explained that they were not originally tested at the time of the shooting because, given the methods available then, there was nothing suitable for testing.

However under cross-examination by defence QC Arthur Harvey, the scientist agreed that there was no record of how the items were stored at the forensic laboratory up until 1999, when it was blown-up, and how and when they were then sent on to the new facility at Carrickfergus. She also accepted that there were no records of photos being taken, nor of any descriptive record of their condition.

The court also heard that following the bombing of the original lab, it was possible that the cigarette ends, together with files from other terrorist incidents could have all ended up in the same box for transportation to the new lab.

However, the items still had no traceable history of how they were stored and/or if any work was carried out on them prior to their latest examination.

The forensic expert also agreed that "in certain circumstance", while a prior history surrounding the items cannot alter her findings, "it may alter the consequences that flow" from them.

The trial continues.

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz