Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Widow to decide over murder inquest

Mourners attend Seamus Dillon's funeral in 1997

The widow of a former republican prisoner shot dead in a revenge attack hours after Billy Wright's murder is to be asked whether she wants his inquest to proceed, a court has heard.

Seamus Dillon, a 45-year-old father of three from Stewartstown, Co Tyrone, was gunned down outside the Glengannon Hotel in Dungannon by the LVF in December 1997.

His widow Martina believes the security forces colluded in her husband's murder but a subsequent investigation by the Police Ombudsman said there was not sufficient evidence to back her claim.

The police's Historical Enquiries Team (HET) has now completed its own review of the cold case, but Mrs Dillon has yet to see the findings.

At a preliminary hearing in Belfast, Northern Ireland's Senior Coroner John Leckey asked the family's lawyer Padraig O'Muirigh to establish if they were satisfied with the HET report and, if so, did they still want the long-delayed inquest to go ahead.

"Either the report satisfies the family and they now have all the information about the circumstances in which Mr Dillon was murdered in order for them to register the death or they feel the inquest will serve some purpose," said Mr Leckey.

Mr Dillon, a convicted IRA murderer, was working as a doorman at a disco when two gunmen pulled into the car park at the Glengannon and sprayed the crowded hotel entrance with 20 shots. Two other doormen and a 14-year-old waiter were seriously injured. The attack happened on the same day LVF leader Wright was killed by INLA inmates inside the Maze prison.

On his release from prison three years earlier, it is understood Mr Dillon severed ties with the IRA and he was buried without paramilitary trappings.

Mr O'Muirigh said he would consult with the family and indicate their wishes early next month. The lawyer said the HET was "quite comprehensive" but suggested the family may wish to explore some issues further.

"Without further instructions from them it's difficult to say for sure," he added.

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