CCTV footage from the night Robert Hamill was murdered was not kept by police, an inquiry has heard.
A senior detective investigating the sectarian killing on April 27, 1997 told yesterday’s sitting at Belfast Interpoint Centre he was “surprised” that the videos of Portadown town centre had not been retained. The tapes, which may have shown the exact location of a police Land Rover parked close to the scene of the fatal assault, were viewed by another officer, detective constable Donald Keys, who deemed them of little of value.
Giving evidence yesterday, detective Sergeant Dereck Bradley said: “If I’d done it myself I’d have kept the videos.” He told the inquiry he had “no recollection” of a meeting between police and two of Mr Hamill’s sisters at Portadown RUC station in the days after the attack during which CCTV evidence was discussed.
Father-of-three Robert died on May 8, 1997 — days after being beaten and jumped on by a loyalist crowd as he made his way home from a night out.
His family claim four RUC officers who were in the Land Rover failed to intervene to stop the vicious assault. The detective sergeant told the inquiry that during the early stages of his investigation he was aware of an issue surrounding police conduct on the night of the attack.
“If you go back to the Sunday (April 28, 1997) there was TV coverage, Brid Rodgers had been on and raised issues,” he said.
Meanwhile it emerged that police spent just 20 minutes searching the home of a murder suspect.
Officers from the RUC’s mobile support unit and CID seized three items during a search of one room at Allister Hanvey’s home on May 10, 1997 — two days after Mr Hamill died.
Murder charges against four men including Mr Hanvey were dramatically dropped by the authorities in 1998.
A fifth man, Marc Hobson, was acquitted of murder but was jailed for four years for affray.